Henry Weed Fowler was born March 23, 1878 in Holmesburg, Pennsylvania. His post-high school academic career was limited to two years (ca. 1900) spent at Stanford University as a special student under David Starr Jordan. His entire professional life was spent in association with the Academy of Natural Sciences where he was employed as a museum assistant (1903-1922), a museum fellow (1922-1923), associate curator of vertebrate zoology (1925-1934), curator of fishes and reptiles (1934-1940) and curator of fishes (1940-1965). While Fowler published papers on crustaceans, birds, reptiles and amphibians during his lifetime, ichthyology was his main interest and the area in which he did most of his work. He was a founder of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and its treasurer for seven years. He was also President of the Society in 1927. He died in 1965.
Fowler's connection with the Smithsonian centered on two main projects. Around 1918, Barton A. Bean, assistant curator of fishes at the United States National Museum, recommended that the fishes of the Wilkes Exploring Expedition be sent to Fowler since they had never been properly identified. Fowler returned a manuscript of approximately 750 pages in 1920. This manuscript was never published although Fowler did publish a summary of the paper in 1940 in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (volume 82, pages 733-800). Bean and Fowler also published a report on eighteen new species of fish in the Wilkes collection in the Proceedings of the United States National Museum (2488, 22 December 1923).
In 1925, Fowler and Bean began a collaborative work on the fishes collected by the Bureau of Fisheries steamer Albatross in the Philippines from 1907-1910. Six volumes were published from 1928 to 1941 as parts 7-8 and 10-13 of Bulletin 100 of the United States National Museum. The first three were jointly authored by Bean and Fowler and the latter three by Fowler alone. In addition, Fowler submitted six additional manuscripts which were never published.