Yale University has maintained natural history collections for teaching and research for more than 200 years, and beginning in 1866 the Peabody Museum of Natural History assumed stewardship of these treasures and is one of the largest and most diverse university natural history museums in the world. With collections from archaeology and ethnography to geology and paleontology to botany and zoology, the research of the Yale's nine generations of faculty curators and their students have chronicled the history of science in America. Historical accounts of the Museum, former curators and staff and the collections can be found under the Museum archives and each respective curatorial division.
With support from the Council for Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Yale Peabody Museum received a generous grant (Ref. No. 41000625) from CLIR’s “Hidden Collections” program to catalog the archival and special collections from its ten curatorial divisions and Museum archives. The goal of this project is to catalog the rich treasure of archival material including field notebooks, diaries, correspondence, maps, manuscripts, photographic materials, paintings and artwork that have been affiliated with the eight generations of faculty and students that have generated collections at Yale University.
Tim White, Director of Collections & Operations at the Peabody, is the PI for the project. Daniel Drew and Samantha Wentworth are Museum Assistants working with the curatorial divisions on cataloging the archival materials from these rich collections. Lawrence Gall, Head of Computer Systems at Peabody is our technical advisor and coordinates our database activities and production of finding aids. Catherine Sease, Peabody’s Senior Conservator is working with Drew, Wentworth and the curatorial divisions to develop practices for the preservation and housing of these materials. Drew and Wentworth, with support from Gall and Sease, have prioritized these collections for further conservation and digitization. For more information about Peabody’s archival cataloging project see this press release and CLIR’s Hidden Collections page.
Archives, special collections and original source documentation from the Peabody Museum of Natural History have been sorted, organized and cataloged from the following curatorial divisions and the Museum Archives. Access to the materials can be arranged through the respective Collections Manager for these collections. As additional materials are catalogued this list will be updated and finding aids will be added to the Yale Finding Aid Database (YFAD).
Historical Scientific Instruments
Cataloging, Descriptions and Finding Aids
These types of collections are being catalogued in the Peabody enterprise collections management system, KE EMu, using the archival metadata standard EAD (Encoded Archival Description). In turn, as archival collections are processed, finding aids are being generated and will be served electronically through YFAD.
Most of the Peabody archives are catalogued at a broad level of description (i.e., Fond, Series, Folder, File). Where possible, Item level archival records are also being entered and linked to the respective specimens, artifacts, collecting events or accessions. By using these integrated linking capabilities of EMu, the Peabody has the ability to directly cross-reference archival materials to specimens or artifacts in a single system, adding another layer of richness to the Museum’s databases, and value to the scholars and students using these materials.
An ongoing activity as part of the CLIR project is Oral Histories and annotated descriptions of various museum and curatorial activities. Interviews with the following faculty and staff have been conducted and recorded and other interviews are in process. All faculty and staff are from Yale University unless otherwise stated. In time, select recordings and transcripts from these interviews will be added to this site.
The following faculty were interviewed prior to this grant, and efforts are underway to digitally translate these recordings. Transcriptions are available in their respective archives.