Joseph Beal Steere


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Browse Steere Collection

Joseph Beal Steere (front, center) with his team of collectors. Image courtesy of UM’s Bentley Historical Library.


Ann Arbor native Joseph Beal Steere traveled and collected circumglobally from 1870-1875, making his way through the Amazon, then to the Philippines, China, and Taiwan. His expedition was sponsored by his cousin, Rice A. Beal, editor of the Ann Arbor Courier, who financed the trip on the condition that Steere periodically send back letters to be published in the Courier. Nonetheless, Steere’s many collections were sent directly to the University of Michigan; they were some of the first specimens to be deposited into the Museums from outside the broader Michigan region, and thus formed the nucleus for today’s global Museum collections.

An itinerary detailing Steere’s expedition can be found on the UMMZ Bird Collection’s website here.

Steere also collected extensively in the Ann Arbor area; his property included Steere Swamp (now the Ann Arbor Airport) where he collected the massasauga rattlesnake pictured below in 1904.

A massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus) collected by J. B. Steere in Ann Arbor in 1904-- UMMZ catalog # 31760. Photo by Gregory Schneider.

A massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus) collected by J. B. Steere in Ann Arbor in 1904; UMMZ catalog # 31760. Photo by Gregory Schneider.

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