Niko Tinbergen: A Message in the Archives

Richard W. Burkhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Just as biologists have their favored places for doing research, so do historians. As someone who likes working in archives, the most surprising thing the present author ever found was a particular letter that had been written to him by the ethologist Niko Tinbergen—but that Tinbergen had never sent. The letter included a detailed critique of the intellectual style and conceptual shortcomings of Tinbergen’s career-long friend and colleague Konrad Lorenz. The present author first saw the letter 3 years after Tinbergen’s death and 10 years after the letter was composed. Here we discuss the contents and historical context of that letter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-703
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the History of Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Archives
  • Ernst Mayr
  • Ethology
  • Field naturalist
  • Franz Liszt
  • Konrad Lorenz
  • Niko Tinbergen
  • Orangutan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Niko Tinbergen: A Message in the Archives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this