Joseph Beal Steere

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Joseph Beal Steere
Joseph Beal Steere.png
Professor Joseph Beal Steere
Born9 February 1842 (1842-02-09)
Died7 December 1940 (1940-12-08) (aged 98)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Scientific career
FieldsZoology, Ornithology, Botany

Joseph Beal Steere (9 February 1842 – 7 December 1940) was an American ornithologist.

Steere was born in Rollin, Michigan, the son of William Millhouse and Elizabeth Cleghorn (Beal) Steere.[1] He received a B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1868 and a B. of Law in 1870.

Shortly after his graduation he entered upon an extensive tour to make collections for the University Museum. His mother's cousin, Rice A. Beal—owner and publisher of the Ann Arbor Courier—agreed to pay for the expedition if Steere would write letters from his journey to be published in the Courier.[2] He spent about eighteen months on the Amazon River and its tributaries, making collections in zoology, botany and archaeology. He crossed the Andes and continued his collections in various parts of Peru. He then sailed for China and the island of Formosa (Taiwan).

Joseph B. Steere (bottom row center) and his students prior to their 1887 Philippine expedition

He went on another scientific expedition in 1887 to the Philippines where he made an extensive collection of birds, shells, and other natural objects. From there he continued his journey to the Moluccas, and finally returned home by way of the Suez Canal, London and Liverpool, after an absence of five years.[1]

In 1875, he received an honorary PhD from the University of Michigan and commenced work as a professor. He held the following positions: Assistant Professor of Paleontology (1876-1877); Assistant Professor of Zoology and Paleontology (1877-1879); Professor of Zoology and Curator of the Museum (1879-1881); and Professor of Zoology (1881-1894). He resigned from the university in 1894 at the request of the Regents possibly because his outspoken stance on temperance had angered the local German community in Ann Arbor.[2]

He married Helen F. Buzzard on 30 September 1879.

He took one final excursion in 1901, leading a group of students to the Amazon to collect specimens for the Smithsonian Institution.

Steere described a number of new birds. He is commemorated in the scientific names of a number of birds, including: Steere's liocichla, Liochicla steerii ; the wattled broadbill, Eurylaimus steerii ; the black-hooded coucal, Centropus steerii ; and the azure-breasted pitta, Pitta steerii.

A species of lizard, Sphenomorphus steerei, is also named in his honor.[3]


  • Steere, J. B., 1890. "A List of Birds and Mammals Collected by the Steere Expedition to the Philippines, with New Species."
  • Steere, J. B., 1903. Narrative of a visit to Indian tribes of the Purus River, Brazil. A. Rept. U. S. natl Mus., Washington, D. C. 1903: 359–393.
  • Steere, J. B., 1927. The archeology of the Amazon. Univ. Michigan off. Publs 29 (9, Pt. 2): 20–26.
  • Steere, J. B., 1949. Tribos do Purus. Sociologia, São Paulo 11 (2): 64–78, 212–222.


  1. ^ a b Hinsdale, B.A. (1906). History of the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan. p. 257.
  2. ^ a b Bentley Historical Library. "Finding Aid for the Joseph Beal Steere Papers, 1861-1941". Bentley Historical Library. University of Michigan. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  3. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Steere", p. 251).

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Marquis, A. N., ed., 1918. Who's who in America. A biographical dictionary of living men and women of the United States. Vol. 10. A. N. Marquis and Co., Chicago. p. 2574.