Saving America's Treasures
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I'm not one to blow my own horn, but as this was a collaborative project, co-written with my colleague Marilyn Fox and with help from a small army of Peabody and Yale staff - I think I can get away with it. A couple of weeks ago, we found out that we had been awarded a large grant by IMLS under the Save America's Treasures program - you can read more about the project here. The award of this grant sends an important message that O.C. Marsh's fossil collections are a national treasure, part of America's heritage.  


This may seem obvious, but as we seek to emphasize the scientific importance and utility of the collections, it's important not to overlook their historical significance. Yale's scientific expeditions were part of the opening of the American West, with all the good and bad (in some cases very bad) that was attendant on that. The fossil deposits at Como Bluff, Wyoming, the source of some of the Peabody's most spectacular specimens, were discovered by workers on the transcontinental railroad. Without the spread of the railroads, it wouldn't have been possible to transport those huge bones back East.

Marsh was one of the first American scientists to accept Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection and his fossils were acknowledged by Darwin as providing

critical support for his ideas. And beyond that, there are the names - Allosaurus, Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops - familiar to generations of American children and deeply engrained into popular culture. Those names are anchored to the type specimens in the Yale collections, specimens whose long-term well-being and accessibility has been guaranteed by those IMLS funds.


Chris Norris is Senior Collection Manager in the Division of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Yale Peabody Museum and President Elect of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (

Taken from the following blog: Prerogative of Harlots