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Barnum Brown

American Paleontologist. Born: February 12, 1873. Died: February 5, 1963

Barnum Brown was born February 12, 1873 in Carbondale, Osage County, to William and Clarissa (Silver) Brown.

Brown’s love for finding specimens began at a young age. As a boy Brown would collect sea shells. His collection would soon go from filling up a pantry shelf to eventually filling a woodshed.  Although his original educational pursuits were engineer focused, that changed when Brown met Dr. Samuel W. Williston, who turned his interests from engineering to paleontology.

Searching for fossils around the world, Brown’s explorations and discoveries earned him the nickname “Father of the Dinosaurs.” He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1897. He pursued graduate studies at Columbia University 1897-98. In 1934 he received an honorary doctorate from Lehigh University.

In 1897 he became an assistant in the department of vertebrate paleontology,  assistant curator of fossil reptiles in 1910, associate curator of fossil reptiles in 1911, curator of fossil reptiles in 1927, and  curator emeritus of fossil reptiles from 1942 to 1963.

In 1902 Brown discovered a Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen that, although not a complete skeleton, consists of approximately 34 bones.  The T-Rex belonged to the American Museum of Natural History from 1906 to 1936. In 1941 it was sold to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for only $7,000, where it remains today.

Brown married Marion Raymond in 1904. They had a daughter, Francis R. Brown. Marion died in 1910. He married his second wife Lilian McLaughlin, a lecturer and author, in 1922.

Brown died February 5, 1963, in New York City. 

Entry: Brown, Barnum

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2016

Date Modified: June 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.