A doctor and assistant to Paul Broca, Ernest Théodore Hamy was appointed a correspondent of the Commission de Topographie des Gaules in January 1877.

In 1872, he joined the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle as assistant naturalist to Armand de Quatrefages, who he succeeded in 1892. He was also interested in ethnography, to the extent that he is considered one of the founders of the discipline in France. He became the first curator of the Muséum ethnographique des missions scientifiques du Trocadéro, more commonly known as the Musée d’ethnographie du Trocadéro, when it opened in 1878.

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Photograph of Ernest Théodore Hamy