Harry Payne Bingham (b. 1887; d. 1955), the son of a Cleveland
manufacturer, graduated from Yale in 1910. After serving in World
War I, he settled as a businessman in New York City. In the 1920s he
developed a serious interest in marine biology, writing to his Yale
classmates in 1926: “Since 1923 I have devoted my time largely to
scientific research work connected with marine life…. I make yearly
trips to southern waters in boats especially equipped for deep-sea
fishing… The specimens I am accumulating in a private museum for
further study and reference.” In his yachts Pawnee I and Pawnee II
Bingham explored the waters of the Caribbean and the Gulf of
California, amassing a collection of fish and other marine organisms.
In 1927 he hired a curator for his collection, Albert E. Parr, and started a journal, the Bulletin of the Bingham Oceanographic Collection, in which to publish the results of research carried out by his staff of scientists, preparators and illustrators.
In 1930 Bingham gave his collection to Yale University, establishing the Bingham Oceanographic Foundation for its support. Consisting at that time of more than 3,000 specimens, it included nearly 200 species new to science. In later years he made more donations for the benefit of the collection, including a bequest that helped to fund the construction in 1959 of a new laboratory next to the Yale Peabody Museum, on what is now the site of the Class of 1954 Enviromental Science Center. Bingham was also a benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York