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Wharton Huber Photographs

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: ANSP-2010-101

Scope and Contents

70 linear inches of glass plate negatives, positives, and plastic film (could be nitrate?).

Scope and Contents

The Wharton Huber collection (1896-1939) is a diverse collection of images spanning most of Huber’s life. It includes images of Huber’s expedition to Nicaragua, wildlife from across the United States, Huber’s friends and family, landscapes, portraits, and studies of plants. The collection consists of black and white glass negatives and positives, film negatives, and black and white prints. Many of the prints are folded over as though they were intended to be greeting cards.

The subjects of the collection encompass Huber’s personal life including his friends, family, dormitory at college, and house; his 1922 expedition to Nicaragua and the people, plants, buildings, animals, and boats from there; landscapes, wildlife, and people from his trips from to the American Southwest from 1927 to 1939 including the Mescalero Apache and Pueblo Native American Reservations in New Mexico, a number of towns such as Monterey in California, the Bear Salt Marshes in Utah, Wyoming, Texas, and Arizona; studies of birds and plants from Pennsylvania and New Jersey; a number of museum exhibits at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and the Wistar Institute of anatomy; Huber preparing specimens; hunting expedition; and numerous other images of unidentified people and places.

The bulk of the images of Nicaragua can be found in the mini-boxes, where as most of the images of the expeditions to the Southwest of the United States can be found amongst the loose glass negatives. Additionally, the majority of the mini-boxes and prints have very little information tied to them, but a good number of the loose negatives can often be found in vintage envelopes specifying the location and subjects of the images. Some of the prints appear to have been postcards or greeting cards and have messages on the back or inside them usually from or to the Hubers.


  • 1920s


Biographical / Historical

Wharton Huber (1877-1942) was a curator, naturalist, ornithologist, and mammalogist, who collected and prepared many of this own specimens. Additionally, he had a strong interest in photographing nature. This talent was recognized by the British Museum, which displayed some of his photographs in an exhibit on wildlife photography and afterward kept some of his pieces as examples of outstanding work in the area. Aside from his love for animals, Huber was a passionate gardener with a strong love for flowers and plants. Due to his admiration for nature, Huber became an advocate for wildlife protection, often giving talks on the issue. In addition to the specimens he collected for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, he amassed a private collection of over 4,000 birds and mammals.

Huber was born on November 9, 1877 in Georgetown, Pennsylvania to Stiles and Arabella Huber. He was named after Thomas Wharton, the first governor of Pennsylvania of whom Huber was a direct descendant. When he was young, Huber’s family moved to Gwynedd Valley, where he met Thomas Gillin, who brought Huber on collecting trips and taught him how to prepare skins.

Huber attended county schools and then Cheltenham Military Academy, which he later left because he found the school too strict. Next, Huber enrolled at Penn Charter and then the Delancy School, where he was noted to be “an excellent shot” (Poole). At age fifteen, he accompanied President Grover Cleveland on a hunting expedition, during which he was reported to have shot more ducks than the President. Huber graduated from Lafayette College in 1901 after studying engineering. There he had been a member of both the football and crew teams as well as in the fraternity Phi Kappa Psi.

From 1901 to 1906, Huber was employed by the Wistar Institute of Anatomy where he worked on the bird collection and bone boards. After two years working within the Institute, he traveled to Loudoun County near Herndon, Virginia where he ran lumber operations while also collecting bird specimens. In 1915, he went to Las Cruces, New Mexico for six months on a collecting trip, during which he discovered the New Mexican Duck (Anas novimexicanus.) Then in 1917, he started working with the Philadelphia Electric Company. On April 27, 1918, he married Margaretta Matilda Mason (descendant of Mason of the Mason-Dixon Line.) Immediately after his marriage, he spent time in New Mexico, returning there again a year later to collect specimens for the Museum of Comparative Zoology on a trip sponsored by John E. Thayer.

In 1920, Huber began working for the Department of Ornithology at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia under his friend Dr. Witmer Stone as Assistant and then Associate Curator of Birds and Mammals. With Fletcher Street, Huber undertook an expedition to Nicaragua for the Academy from March to June 1922. There he collected 625 birds skins, more than 7,000 insects, about 100 mammal specimens, and some reptile and fish specimens. Unfortunately, Huber fell ill after the trip and was temporarily incapacitated. in 1927, he went to the Bear River Marshes in Utah where he collected ducks dying of botulism and described changes in their plummage. Subsequently, he took two trips to the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico, with a trip to Queen Charlotte, British Columbia in between. In 1933, he traveled with Margaretta to California to collect Pygmy Elk for a habitat at the Academy. Additional expeditions he took for the Academy include one to Louisiana in 1934 and others to Arizona and North Carolina. From 1934 to 1942, Huber served as Curator of Mammals for the Academy.

Wharton Huber was also a member of the Wilderness Club, the American Ornithologists’ Union, the Copper Club, and the Zoological Society of Philadelphia. Furthermore, he served on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Mammalogists, and was on the Board of Directors and later President for two terms of the Geographic Society of Philadelphia. In 1916, Huber joined the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club and served as the editor of the group’s publication the Cassinia from 1925 to 1926. He later became a member of the Board of Directors for the group and then vice president. Finally from 1939 to 1941, he served three terms as president of the D.V.O.C.

In May 1940, the Hubers moved to Cedarville in Chester County, Pennsylvania due to Wharton’s failing health caused by a chronic serious illness. They lived there until Huber’s death in his home on March 13, 1942.


Academy Biographies. “Biographical- Huber, Wharton.”

Delaware Valley Ornithological Club. “Members who joined 1910-1919,” July 28, 2010.

Delaware Valley Ornithological Club. “Officers of the DVOC 1890-Present,” July 28, 2010.

Poole, Earl. Cassinia. “Wharton Huber: 1877-1942,” 1942.


70 linear_inches (Ten 5-inch document cases, two 5-inch fliptop photo boxes, two 5-inch shoeboxes)

Language of Materials


Physical Description

Quite varied, most in good condition, some plastic film warped, dust and grime associated with vintage packaging.

Wharton Huber Photographs
In Process
Alison Barton
Language of description
Script of description
Nate Rice, Ph.D., Collection Manager, Ornithology Department

Repository Details

Part of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University Repository

1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia PA 19103 USA
215-299-1144 (Fax)