Harold J. Coolidge

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Harold J. Coolidge (died in 1985) founded the World Conservation Union.

"Harold Jefferson Coolidge, a descendent of American President Thomas Jefferson, was born in Boston on 15 January 1904 and was educated at the Universities of Harvard, Arizona, and Cambridge (England). Dr. Coolidge was a remarkable individual, truly a renaissance man, who left an indelible mark on many aspects of science, conservation and international cooperation

"An eminent primatologist and key figure in international conservation, Dr. Coolidge was closely associated with IUCN and the World Wide Fund for Nature from their inception.

"He was part of the US delegation at the historic Fontainebleau meeting which led to the founding of IUCN and was elected IUCN’s first Vice-President. He served as IUCN President from 1966 to 1972 and was the Union’s Honorary President after that. He also founded and chaired both the Species Survival and the National Parks Commissions of IUCN.

"Dr. Coolidge was a WWF International Board member from 1971 to 1978 and was named a Member of Honour in 1979. He was also a founding Director of the WWF- US.

"In his capacity as Curator of Mammals at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, he organised and led several path-breaking zoological expeditions to many parts of the tropics.

"During World War II, Dr. Coolidge invented many life saving devices, including chemical shark repellents and a signalling mirror for downed airmen. He was awarded the US Legion of Merit in 1945.

After the war he began to concentrate on long-term conservation issues. In 1947 he became Director of the Pacific Science Board of the US National Academy of Sciences, a post he held for 23 years. In addition to his illustrious work for IUCN and WWF, Coolidge also provided leadership to many other leading international organisations." [1]


"Mr. Coolidge participated in three major expeditions: the Harvard Medical Expedition of 1927, which took him through Liberia and the Belgian Congo and during which he bagged a large gorilla for a Harvard museum; the Kelley-Roosevelt Expedition to Asia in 1928 and 1929, which explored part of the Mekong River and its tributaries, and on which he was joined by Theodore Roosevelt Jr.; and the Asian Primatology Expedition of 1937, which Mr. Coolidge led through northwest Tonkin and northern Laos, and which greatly advanced the understanding of gibbons.

"The filmmakers noted that Donna Haraway, a science historian, described Mr. Coolidge's second Asian expedition in her book Primate Visions as one of the last 19th-century-style colonial collecting ventures and the first of the new primate behavior field trips conducted in the frame of the incipient international conservation politics." [2]

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