Henry Fairfield Osborn, Jr.

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Henry Fairfield Osborn, Jr.

Birthdate: (82)
Death: 1969 (82)
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry Fairfield Osborn and Lucretia Osborn

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About Henry Fairfield Osborn, Jr.


Henry Fairfield Osborn, Jr. (15 January 1887 — 16 September 1969), son of the American geologist Henry Fairfield Osborn and cousin of Frederick Osborn, was a conservationist. He was long time president of the New York Zoological Society.


Henry Fairfield Osborn Jr. was born in Princeton, New Jersey. Born into the wealthy and influential Osborn family, he was the son of Henry Fairfield Osborn, a prominent paleontologist, eugenicist and “distinguished Aryan enthusiast”. After obtaining his Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University, he went on to study biology at Cambridge University, but then pursued a career in international business. Towards the end of the First World War, he served briefly as a Captain in the United States Army, after which he returned to private enterprise.

In 1935, he retired and devoted himself to environmental causes. He continued in his capacity as secretary and board member of the New York Zoological Society, a position he held from 1923 until 1940, when he was named president and board member, a position he held for the rest of his life.

Osborn wrote Our Plundered Planet, and when published in 1948 it became very influential in the early Environmental movement and helped spur a Malthusian revival in 1950s and 60s. He is also remembered for being an early opponent of synthetic pesticide use, for producing several films dealing with endangered species, flood control and water resources, as well as for his second book, The Limits of the Earth (1953), and a collection of short essays he edited under the title of Our Crowded Planet (1962). From 1948 to 1961, he served as the first president of the Conservation Foundation, anorganization he founded with a number of like-minded colleagues to raise awareness about ecological problems.

After retiring as president, he served as chairman of the board of this organization from 1962 to 1969. From 1950 to 1957, Osborn was also a member of the Conservation Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of the Interior, while also serving on the Planning Committee of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Upon his death in New York City on September 16, 1969, "he was remembered for playing a valuable role in a number of conservation organizations and for his outreach initiatives to warn of the dangers of uncontrolled population growth and to promote responsible natural resource consumption."

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Henry Fairfield Osborn, Jr.'s Timeline

Age 82