Ivan T. Sanderson (1911 - 1973)

Ivan T. Sanderson
1911 - 1973
updated October 03, 2020
Ivan T. Sanderson was born on January 30, 1911 in Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K.. He married Alma Sanderson. He died on February 19, 1973 in New Jersey at 62 years old.

Ivan Terence Sanderson (January 30, 1911 – February 19, 1973) was a biologist and writer born in Edinburgh, Scotland, who became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Sanderson is remembered for his nature writing and his interest in cryptozoology and paranormal subjects. He also wrote fiction under the name Terence Roberts.
Biography
Born in Scotland, Sanderson traveled widely in his youth. His father, who manufactured whiskey professionally, was killed by a rhinoceros while assisting a documentary film crew in Kenya in 1925.
As a teenager, Sanderson attended Eton College and, at 17 years old, began a yearlong trip around the world, focusing mostly on Asia.
Sanderson earned a B.A. in zoology, with honors, from Cambridge University faculty of Biology, where in the same faculty he later earned M.A. degrees in botany and ethnology.
He became famous claiming to have seen a Kongamato after being attacked by a creature he described as "the Granddaddy of all bats". Sanderson conducted a number of expeditions as a teenager and young man into tropical areas in the 1920s and 1930s, gaining fame for his animal collecting as well as his popular writings on nature and travel.
During World War II, Sanderson worked for British Naval Intelligence, in charge of counter-espionage against the Germans in the Caribbean, then for British Security Coordination, finally finishing out the war as a press agent in New York City.
Afterwards, Sanderson made New York his home and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. In the 1960s Sanderson lived in Knowlton Township in northwestern New Jersey before moving to Manhattan. He died in 1973.
Nature writing
Sanderson published: Animal Treasure, a report of an expedition to the jungles of then-British West Africa; Caribbean Treasure, an account of an expedition to Trinidad, Haiti, and Surinam, begun in late 1936 and ending in late 1938; and Living Treasure, an account of an expedition to Jamaica, British Honduras (now Belize) and the Yucatan.
Illustrated with Sanderson's drawings, they are accounts of his scientific expeditions. Sanderson collected animals for museums and scientific institutions, and included detailed studies of their behaviors and environments. He also killed some for study.
Media appearances
In 1948 Sanderson began appearing on American radio and television, speaking as a naturalist and displaying animals. In 1951 he appeared with Patty Painter on the world's first regularly scheduled colour TV series, The World is Yours. Sanderson also provided the introduction for 12 episodes of the 1953 television wildlife series Osa Johnson's The Big Game Hunt a.k.a. The Big Game Hunt featuring the films of Martin and Osa Johnson.
Sanderson's television appearances with animals led to what he termed his "animal business." Initially Sanderson borrowed or rented animals from zoos in the New York metropolitan area for his TV appearances. In 1950 at a meeting of the National Speleological Society, he met 20-year-old Edgar O. ("Eddie") Schoenenberger, who by 1952 was his assistant (and ultimately partner) in his animal business. Schoenenberger suggested that, instead of "renting" animals, they should purchase and house them, and gain some additional income by displaying them in a zoo. Sanderson purchased in November 1952 the "Frederick Trench place" a 250-year-old farmhouse, outbuildings and 25 acres (100,000 m2) of land a short ways from the ultimate location of the zoo between the communities of Columbia and Hainesburg. He refurbished and expanded moving 200 of his rarest animals to a barn nearby so he could keep close watch on them. Then, in the spring of 1954, he established "Ivan Sanderson’s Jungle Zoo" (and Laboratory), a permanent, summer, roadside attraction near Manunka Chunk, White Township, Warren County, New Jersey. Sanderson also developed and deployed winter traveling exhibits of rare and unusual animals for sports shows and department stores. A fire on the night of Tuesday or early morning hours of Wednesday, February 2, 1955 destroyed his collection of 45 rare animals kept in a barn at his New Jersey home. Ivan Sanderson's Jungle Zoo was flooded out by the Delaware River during the floods caused by Hurricane Diane on August 19, 1955.
Sanderson often traveled from his New Jersey home to his New York apartment to visit friends and to appear on radio and television programs.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Sanderson was widely published in such journals of popular adventure as True, Sports Afield, and Argosy, as well as in the 1940s in general-interest publications such as the Saturday Evening Post. In the 1950s, Sanderson was a frequent guest on Long John Nebel's paranormal-themed radio program. He was a frequent guest on The Garry Moore Show, where he brought live specimens on talk shows. His friend and fellow cryptozoologist Loren Coleman says that Sanderson could be skeptical. In "Mysterious America," Coleman writes that Sanderson discovered the 1909 "Jersey Devil" incident was an elaborate real estate hoax.
Paranormal work
Sanderson was an early follower of Charles Fort. Later he became known for writings on topics such as cryptozoology, a word Sanderson coined in the early 1940s, with special attention to the search for lake monsters, sea serpents, Mokèlé-mbèmbé, giant penguins, Yeti, and Sasquatch.
Sanderson founded the Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation in August 1965 on his New Jersey property, which became the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained (SITU) in 1967. SITU was a non-profit organization that investigated claims of strange phenomena ignored by mainstream science.
Personal
Sanderson was married twice. His wife Alma accompanied him in the travels discussed in Caribbean Treasure and Living Treasure.
He died of brain cancer in New Jersey, which had become his adopted home.
Works
Nature/travel
Green silence: Travels through the jungles of the Orient, D. McKay Co., 1974, ISBN 0-679-50487-7.
Animal Treasure, The Viking Press, September 1937, hardback; Pyramid Books, July 1966, paperback.
Ivan Sanderson's Book of Great Jungles, Julian Messner, 1965, hardback.
Caribbean Treasure, The Viking Press, November 1939, hardback, ISBN 0-670-20479-X; Pyramid Books, November 1965, paperback, second printing July 1966.
Living Treasure, The Viking Press, April 1941, hardback, second printing April 1945; Pyramid Books, September 1965, paperback.
The Dynasty of Abu a History and Natural History of the elephants and Their Relatives Past and Present, Alfred A. Knopf, 1962, hardback.
The Continent We Live On, Random House, 1961.
Living mammals of the world in color: A treasury of real-life, natural-color photographs and complete up-to-date, accurate description of 189 mammals, Hanover House, 1958.
Follow the Whale, Little Brown, 1956, hardback.
How to Know the American Mammals, Little, Brown and Company, 1951, hardback.
Paranormal subjects
Things and More Things (essays), combined and reprinted by Adventures Unlimited Press, 2007, paperback, ISBN 1-931882-78-9
Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life: The Story Of Sub-Humans On Five Continents From The Early Ice Age Until Today, Adventures Unlimited Press, 2006, paperback, ISBN 1-931882-58-4.
Invisible Residents: The Reality of Underwater UFOs, with David Hatcher Childress, Adventures Unlimited Press, 2005, paperback, ISBN 1-931882-20-7.
Investigating the Unexplained (essays) Prentice Hall, 1972, hardback, ISBN 0-13-502229-0.
More Things (essays), Pyramid Books, 1969, paperback.
Uninvited Visitors: A Biologist Looks At UFOs, Cowles Education Corporation, 1967, hardback.
Things (essays), Pyramid Books, 1967, paperback.
Fiction under the name Terence Roberts
Mystery Schooner, Viking Press, 1944, hard cover.
Report on the Status Quo, Merlin Press, 1955, hard cover.
Black Allies (short story) published in The Saint Magazine: March [Mar] 1967
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Ivan T. Sanderson Biography

Vital facts & highlights of Ivan's life to share with the world.

Ivan T. Sanderson
Most commonly known name
Male
Gender
Ivan
First name
T.
Middle name
Sanderson
Last name(s)
Ivan Terence Sanderson
Nickname(s) or aliases
Unknown. Did Ivan move a lot? Where was his last known location?
Last known residence
Ivan Sanderson was born on in Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K.
Birth
Ivan Sanderson died on in New Jersey United States
Death
Ivan Sanderson was born on in Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K.
Ivan Sanderson died on in New Jersey United States
Birth
Death
Brain Cancer
Cause of death
Do you know the final resting place - gravesite in a cemetery or location of cremation - of Ivan T. Sanderson?
Burial / Funeral

Ethnicity & Lineage

Great Britain and Scotland.

Nationality & Locations Lived

Unknown

Religion

Unknown. Was Ivan a religious man?

Education

As a teenager, Sanderson attended Eton College and, at 17 years old, began a yearlong trip around the world, focusing mostly on Asia.
Sanderson earned a B.A. in zoology, with honors, from Cambridge University faculty of Biology, where in the same faculty he later earned M.A. degrees in botany and ethnology.

Professions

Famous author.
Green silence: Travels through the jungles of the Orient, D. McKay Co., 1974, ISBN 0-679-50487-7.
Animal Treasure, The Viking Press, September 1937, hardback; Pyramid Books, July 1966, paperback.
Ivan Sanderson's Book of Great Jungles, Julian Messner, 1965, hardback.
Caribbean Treasure, The Viking Press, November 1939, hardback, ISBN 0-670-20479-X; Pyramid Books, November 1965, paperback, second printing July 1966.
Living Treasure, The Viking Press, April 1941, hardback, second printing April 1945; Pyramid Books, September 1965, paperback.
The Dynasty of Abu a History and Natural History of the elephants and Their Relatives Past and Present, Alfred A. Knopf, 1962, hardback.
The Continent We Live On, Random House, 1961.
Living mammals of the world in color: A treasury of real-life, natural-color photographs and complete up-to-date, accurate description of 189 mammals, Hanover House, 1958.
Follow the Whale, Little Brown, 1956, hardback.
How to Know the American Mammals, Little, Brown and Company, 1951, hardback.
Paranormal subjects
Things and More Things (essays), combined and reprinted by Adventures Unlimited Press, 2007, paperback, ISBN 1-931882-78-9
Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life: The Story Of Sub-Humans On Five Continents From The Early Ice Age Until Today, Adventures Unlimited Press, 2006, paperback, ISBN 1-931882-58-4.
Invisible Residents: The Reality of Underwater UFOs, with David Hatcher Childress, Adventures Unlimited Press, 2005, paperback, ISBN 1-931882-20-7.
Investigating the Unexplained (essays) Prentice Hall, 1972, hardback, ISBN 0-13-502229-0.
More Things (essays), Pyramid Books, 1969, paperback.
Uninvited Visitors: A Biologist Looks At UFOs, Cowles Education Corporation, 1967, hardback.
Things (essays), Pyramid Books, 1967, paperback.
Fiction under the name Terence Roberts
Mystery Schooner, Viking Press, 1944, hard cover.
Report on the Status Quo, Merlin Press, 1955, hard cover.
Black Allies (short story) published in The Saint Magazine: March [Mar] 1967

Personal Life & Organizations

My husband James Willett Moseley (married to him for 2 years) and I were invited to spend the weekend with Ivan Sanderson. It was one of the most exciting adventures I ever had. The highlight of it was when Ivan put on a sarong, played bongos and talked about Cole Porter's Beguines.

Military Service

Did Ivan serve in the military or did a war or conflict interfere with his life?

Average Age

Life Expectancy

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Ivan T. Sanderson Family Tree

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Amanda S. Stevenson
10.5k+ favorites
He was the most famous zoologist in the world.
Feb 09, 2018 · Reply
Amanda S. Stevenson
10.5k+ favorites
This is probably why a number of newspapers “invented” descriptions of Ivan’s passing that took on an air of mystique, no doubt to keep in tune with the kind of “end” the public expected to befall a world adventurer. One newspaper went so far as to give the impression that he had been enigmatically “found dead in his home.” Actually, Ivan died peacefully in his sleep on the night of 19 February 1973, in his own bed, Marion holding his hand till the end. He was not “officially” pronounced dead, however, until after midnight, when he was brought to Warren Hospital in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, so Ivan had an uncertain date of both birth and death.

I had no inkling of what was going on, for I had gone on a journey into Canada for a period of time. Upon my return, I found that the April edition of Pursuit was not in my mailbox. This was indeed unusual, for it was now July, and the July edition should soon be mailed. Something was wrong. I did find a letter from Ivan, addressed to all SITU members, accompanied with a reprint from The National Observer summarizing what we had learned from our Apollo flights to the moon. The last line of Ivan’s introduction to the article went: “I only hope that I shall be around to see what Mr. Young might have to say at the end of this next decade.”

I then ran into a friend of mine who presented me with an old newspaper clipping—Ivan’s obituary. Grief overcame me, for although I had heard about Ivan’s operations and Alma’s death, I was not aware that Ivan had died so suddenly. This one-two punch of the absence of Pursuit and the recipience of Ivan’s obituary had convinced me that SITU had folded.

I sent a letter anyway, getting an instant reply from Marion. She said that the Society was still in working order, though Ivan’s death had caused untold distress. Enclosed with this letter was the April edition of Pursuit. What had happened was that my file card had been pulled inadvertently when some other honorary members were deprived of their status. With no card there could be no address on my issue of Pursuit—hence, my issue was not mailed.

The April edition made known Ivan’s decree that there should not be a gloomy ceremony for him. In fact, there was no ceremony at all -—Ivan left his body to medical science in an effort to supplement world-wide cancer research. In the same issue, Marion related some of the curious repercussions felt by the Society and its members immediately following Ivan’s death: “It is perhaps the greatest tribute to Ivan that many of the cards and letters I have received have come from people who had never met Ivan; they knew him from his books, his radio and TV shows, and they felt his death as a personal loss.”

Remembering Ivan's pragmatism, I shot off another letter to Sabina, asking if Ivan had made any "arrangement" for an effort to get in touch with him after death, as a scientific experiment. I also inquired as to whether Ivan knew he had cancer in 1970, at the time when my conversation with him took place. (Remember that line in Chapter 2: "I might as well tell you now because...."). Her reply contained the following:

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but Ivan hoped devoutly that there is no 'hereafter'—the idea of hanging around for eternity did not appeal to him at all. He made no 'arrangements' to try to contact me or anyone else after death and, in fact, at the end was really so ill that he didn't even want to think about scientific experiments; he was primarily concerned with keeping the pain under control somehow. And he was starting his autobiography and concentrating on that. Neither of us suspected that he would die so very soon (he started taping only a week before he died); both of us felt that he was going through another of his 'crises' and that once it was over he should improve—we figured generally on about five years before the cancer actually killed him.

As for the unfinished sentence, I do not know what may have been on his mind or even what he may have started to say, but he could not have known about the cancer, which was not discovered until very late spring or early summer of 1971. I have looked at the calendar for 1970 and can find nothing that indicates any kind of major crisis that might have been worrying him. It probably was nothing more than a 'Well, I'm going to start writing my autobio soon (famous last words) so I might as well tell him...' kind of thing. I certainly don't believe there was anything 'sinister' about it. [Sanderson, Sabina W. Personal Communication. 11 August 1973.]

Thus, in a shadowy and coincidental sort of way, my friendship ended with the greatest intellect and most fascinating fellow that I have ever had the pleasure and the happenstance to meet—my "most unforgettable character," to use the parlance of Reader's Digest.

Now, years later, I sometimes place a dusty old reel marked “SANDERSON” on my tape recorder, thread the mylar strip through the machine and switch it on. I then sit back, listening and trying to visualize just how Ivan looked when he uttered the words that can be found in these pages. Fortunately, when I completely lose sight of that bearded figure in swimming trunks, I can always open up a large manila envelope and pull out Dan Manning’s photographs of a distinguished-looking gentleman and an infinitely younger self sitting on a couch, pleasantly conversing.

Finally, the tape runs out.
Apr 29 · Reply
Amanda S. Stevenson
10.5k+ favorites
When Ivan Sanderson died he came to me in a dream. I didn't recognize him, and I said, "Who ARE you?" And he recounted our times together including a dinner in Manhattan. So I then knew who he was. Ivan Sanderson! I was crazy about you but I never heard from you after my divorce in 1965. Only 6 people visited me after they died and Ivan was one of them. I never look at memorable people as dead, just someone I haven't seen in a while because they are still vivid in my mind, and warm in my feelings.
Apr 29 · Reply

Ivan Sanderson Obituary

This obit of Ivan T. Sanderson is maintained by Ivan's followers. Contribute to her obituary and include details such as cemetery, burial, newspaper obituary and grave or marker inscription if available.

Ivan Sanderson was an exceedingly generous fellow. From the 1950s until 1972, the Sanderson Estate (or "the Farm" as everyone living there called it) was a rendevous for the famous, the near-famous, the non-famous, and even the entirely nondescript locals. International personages and renegade thinkers such as Charles Hapgood, father of the “earth crust displacement” theory, wandered about the grounds, freely intermingling with SITU scientists, members, and personal friends of Ivan’s who may have casually dropped in from neighboring farms, or who may have just flown in from some other continent. Ivan would wine, dine, and entertain these people. He would even gladly put them up for the night—the 11 room, inappropriately-named "Mansion house" alone was equipped with about 10 guest beds—so it was only natural for such visitors to flock to SITU Headquarters in droves, sustaining Sanderson-fueled parties that could last for a period of about three days and nights, occasionally four or more.
When a number of guests became exhausted from the partying (or when somebody could be found to take them home), a new batch of acquaintances would arrive for a three or four day stay.
Whether they had come from the other side of New Jersey or the other side of the world did not matter; a good time was assured for all through the courtesy of Ivan’s massive and somewhat overblown hospitality. Indeed, there were never less than five people inhabiting the Estate at any one time.
During the good times, visiting the Sanderson Estate could be very enjoyable experience indeed. One member dug a pit out in back of the Mansion house, lined it with rocks and proceeded to roast an entire pig. “It was so succulent and delicious,” said one dinner guest, Allen V. Noe, “you could eat the meat, all of the fat, and maybe even the bones!”
This was one of the reasons why the Foundation, and later the Society was slow in becoming established. Ivan's penchant for engendering near-perpetual merry-making could interfere a bit with the serious planning of Society objectives.
uld close operations and the throng herded back up to the Annex, where the final session of the meeting would begin.
After dinner, clusters of people, seeking entertainment, would fiddle about with Ivan’s valuable record collection and phonograph (Ivan liked the Romantic composers, particularly Richard Wagner, as well as comedy records), lounge on his fabulous hand-carved furniture from Asia and wander about the property. In the summer months some SITU members often ended up in the swimming pond.
One can only wonder how Ivan found the time to write. Interestingly one of Ivan's best-known books of the late 1960s was entitled Uninvited Visitors—a "Freudian slip," perhaps?
Friends said that in 1969 his hair suddenly turned completely gray (perhaps he just stopped coloring it).
Even more disturbing was that, round about 1970, the publishing business took a turn for the worse, in concert with the plummeting Dow-Jones average. Ivan's fortunes declined precipitously.
Ivan was still averaging about one radio and TV appearance per week. “Beeper” radio shows—that is, programs done by inquiring reporters over the phone --would come in from time to time. One beeper show from Chicago brought in 1000 inquiries for more information on SITU and its activities. He also appeared on television shows such as A.M. New York, and The Dick Cavett Show.

Followers & Sources
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1911 - 1973 World Events

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In 1911, in the year that Ivan T. Sanderson was born, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole, along with four fellow Norwegian explorers. After hearing that Peary had beaten him to the North Pole, Amundsen decided to tackle the South Pole. On December 14th, he succeeded.

In 1924, by the time he was only 13 years old, on January 21st, Vladimir Lenin, a leader of the Russian Revolution and the first leader of the Soviet Union died. He had survived two assassination attempts but had subsequent physical problems, suffering 3 strokes. He was in such great pain, it is said that he asked Stalin to poison him. The circumstances of his death are still disputed. He did oppose Stalin as the next leader - nonetheless, Stalin won a power struggle and ruled as a Soviet dictator until his death in 1953.

In 1938, Ivan was 27 years old when on June 25th (a Saturday) the Fair Labor Standards Act was signed into law by President Roosevelt (along with 120 other bills). The Act banned oppressive child labor, set the minimum hourly wage at 25 cents, and established the maximum workweek at 44 hours. It faced a lot of opposition and in fighting for it, Roosevelt said "Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, ...tell you...that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry."

In 1943, by the time he was 32 years old, on June 20th through June 22nd, the Detroit Race Riot erupted at Belle Isle Park. The rioting spread throughout the city (made worse by false rumors of attacks on blacks and whites) and resulted in the deployment of 6,000 Federal troops. 34 people were killed, (25 of them black) - mostly by white police or National Guardsmen, 433 were wounded (75 percent of them black) and an estimated $2 million of property was destroyed. The same summer, there were riots in Beaumont, Texas and Harlem, New York.

In 1973, in the year of Ivan T. Sanderson's passing, on January 28th, the Paris Peace Accord was signed - supposedly ending the Vietnam War. Hostilities continued between North and South Vietnam and the U.S. continued to bomb. But by August 15, 1973, 95% of American troops had left Vietnam. The war ended in 1975 with the fall of Saigon.

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