Arthur Holmes Howell (1872-1940) developed an interest in natural history, especially birds, as a boy in New York State. He later joined the Linnaean Society of New York and the American Ornithologists' Union. Through his membership in these groups, he came to know many of the naturalists of the day, particularly Harry C. Oberholser, the ornithologist. On the advice of Oberholser, Vernon Bailey of the United States Department of Agriculture, Division of Ornithology and Mammalogy, later the Bureau of Biological Survey, gave Howell a temporary appointment in 1895 and took him on a western trip as a field assistant.
Following a second temporary appointment in 1896, Howell became a permanent special assistant and was assigned work on the preparation of scientific study skins and the Bureau's mammal collection. Howell remained with the Biological Survey until his death and held the position of Senior Biologist in the Division of Wildlife Research, Fish and Wildlife Service, successor agency of the Bureau.
During his career, Howell became one of the leading American ornithologists and mammalogists. He was a charter member of the American Society of Mammalogists, a member of the Society's Board of Directors, 1935-1940, and Chairman of the editorial committee, 1938-1940. In addition, he was a Fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union and a member of the Baird Ornithological Club, the Cooper Ornithological Club, and the Biological Society of Washington. Howell's major publications dealt with the fauna of the southeastern United States, particularly birds and mammals.
Howell published 118 works. His major works included The Birds of Arkansas, Birds of Alabama, and Florida Bird Life. At the time of his death, he was also preparing two manuscripts for the North American Fauna Series, A Revision of the Classification of Red Squirrels and The Mammals of Florida.