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Carl E. Akeley


Centurion, 1917–1926

Full Name Carl Ethan Akeley

Born 19 May 1864 in Clarendon, New York

Died 17 November 1926 in Mount Mikeno, Congo, Democratic Republic (then Belgian Congo)

Buried Hillside Cemetery, Clarendon, New York

Proposed by Henry Fairfield Osborn and Theodore Roosevelt

Elected 3 February 1917 at age fifty-two

Century Memorial

It is not easy to classify the achievements of Carl Ethan Akeley. He was a naturalist of the highest order, but as far as possible removed from a Cuvier or an Agassiz, for his instinct was to seek out wild life in its own remote fastness and jungles. He was a resolute explorer, and was planning before his death to follow the uncharted Congo River to the sea; but he was no Marco Polo or Stanley, for the wild animals in the undiscovered regions which he penetrated engaged his interest vastly more than the native tribes or the political and geographical problems. Yet, in his work as naturalist, he displayed proficiency in half a dozen usually separate arts.

Reminiscences at the recent memorial meeting in the Museum of Natural History described him as an accomplished taxidermist, a notable conservationist, inventor of exceptionally ingenious mechanical appliances including the cement gun and the most perfect motion camera for field work, an artist and a sculptor. He was also, as the Century knows, an interesting talker, as sententious as he was picturesque. Even on commonplace incident his remarks were characteristic. One of his friends recalls the reply when Akeley, at the Explorers’ Club, was asked for his judgment on accepting the resignation of a certain member. “He won’t fall over me in getting out,” Akeley responded.

Almost beyond all was his love for Africa, which he described as “the most beautiful country in the world.” He wished that when he came to die it might be in that scene of his stirring earlier adventures, and he had his wish.

Alexander Dana Noyes
1927 Century Association Yearbook