S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

True, Mr Frederick Wilhelm (marine mammalogy)

Born: 8 July 1858, Middletown, Connecticut, United States of America.
Died: 25 June 1914, United States of America.

Frederick W. True, American zoologist, studied at the University of the City of New York and was awarded the degree Bachelor of Science (BSc) in 1878. In November that year he was appointed as a clerk to the United States Fish Commission and two years later was the custodian of the Fish Commission's exhibits at the Berlin Fisheries Exhibition in Germany. In July 1881 he joined the staff of the United States National Museum, later part of the Smithsonian Institution, where he remained for the rest of his career. He was head curator of the Department of Biology from 1897 to 1911 and then became assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Though an introverted person, he was an excellent administrator.

True's scientific work mainly focussed on marine mammals of the Order Cetaceae, including wales, dolphins and porpoises. He built up an extensive collection of marine mammals for the National Museum, wrote A review of the family Delhinidae (1889), Whalebone wales of the western North Atlantic (1904) and Observations of living wales (1911), as well as many scientific papers, and became the foremost living authority on the Cetaceae. Later in his career he also studied fossil cetaceans. True's Beaked Wale, True's vole and True's shrew mole were named after him, both in their official species names and in the vernacular.

True's contribution to South African science consisted of a paper 'On Tursiops catalania and other existing species of Bottlenose Porpoises of that genus' in the Annals of the Durban Museum (1914, Vol. 1, pp. 10-24).

List of sources:

Annals of the Durban Museum, 1914, Vol. 1, paper by F.W. True.

Dictionary of American biography. New York: Scribner, 1927-1936.

Google Scholar. http://scholar.google.co.za

National Union Catalogue, pre-1956 imprints. London: Mansell, 1968-1980.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia. http://en.wikipedia.org

Compiled by: C. Plug