Delia J. AKELEY Biography

American explorer, hunter, and author. Born Delia Julia Denning in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, Dec 5, 1875; died in Daytona Beach, Florida, May 22, 1970; dau. of Margaret (Hanbury) Denning and Patrick Denning; m. Arthur J. Reiss, Oct 17, 1889 (div. 1902); m. Carl Ethan Akeley (hunter, naturalist and taxidermist), Dec 2, 1902 (div. 1923); m. Dr. Warren D. Howe (died 1951), 1939; children: none.

Married 2nd husband (1902) and helped him revolutionize taxidermy; with husband, went on 1st expedition to Africa to collect examples of the African elephant (1905–07); brought back 84 crates to US, causing a sensation at Chicago Field Museum; commissioned by American Museum of Natural History in NY to collect elephants for its African Hall, made 2nd expedition to Africa (1909–11); began observing the behavior of monkeys, and was soon attempting to communicate with them; traveled to France to assist with the war effort (1918); divorced (1923); made 3rd expedition to Africa for the Brooklyn Museum (Oct 1924), studying the Pygmies of the Belgian Congo for several months, then reached the west coast of Africa (Sept 3, 1925), the 1st Western woman to cross equatorial Africa; learned of husband’s death in Belgian Congo from fever (1926); made 4th expedition to Africa (Nov 1929), shooting 5,000 feet of film, as well as 1,500 stills; though not a scientist, helped to pioneer the study of primates and indigenous peoples of the African continent; became a popular speaker on lecture circuit. Writings include J.T., Jr.: The Biography of an African Monkey (1929) and Jungle Portraits (1930).