Robert Ridgway (1850-1929) was born in Mount Carmel, Illinois. In 1864 he wrote to Spencer Fullerton Baird, asking Baird to identify a bird that Ridgway had seen. Ridgway and Baird began corresponding, and, in effect, Baird became Ridgway's mentor. In 1867 Baird secured an appointment for Ridgway as zoologist on Clarence King's Geological Survey of the Fortieth Parallel. Upon his return to Washington in 1869, Ridgway was put to work by Baird to furnish the technical descriptions and certain of the drawings for a book on North American birds being prepared by Baird and Thomas Mayo Brewer. In 1874 Ridgway was appointed an ornithologist on the staff of the United States National Museum. In 1880 he was appointed Curator of the Department of Ornithology. Ridgway remained Curator until his death in 1929, although after 1915 he resided in Olney, Illinois.
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