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The Anatomy of a University Natural History Museum

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 Museumformer 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).




  • Benjamin Irving Rouse Archives
  • Cornelius Osgood Archives
  • Wendell Clark Bennett Archives
  • Leopold Jaroslav Pospisil Archives
  • Harold C. Conklin Archives
  • Michael D. Coe Archives
  • Frank Hole Archives
  • Harvey Weiss Archives
  • Anthropology Division Archives
  • Hiram Bingham III Archives
  • William Kelly Simpson Archives
  • Theophil Mitchell Prudden Archives
  • George Grant MacCurdy Archives            





  • Charles Lee Remington Archives
  • Division of Entomology Archives
  • Pardon Sheldon Remington Archives
  • Associates Of The Department Of Entomology Archives
  • Sidney A. Hessel Archives
  • Herman P. Wilhelm Archives
  • Alexander Petrunkevitch Archives
  • Wilbur G Downs Archives
  • Philip Garman Archives
  • Marion W. Boesel Archives
  • Frank Morton Jones Archives
  • Entomology Reprint Archives


Historical Scientific Instruments


Invertebrate Paleontology

  • Charles Schuchert Archives
  • Carl Owen Dunbar Archives
  • A. Lee McAlester Archives
  • Charles Emerson Beecher Archives
  • Neil H. Landman Archives
  • Thomas W. Amsden Archives
  • Joseph G. Carter Archives
  • Robert E. King Archives
  • Russell M. Logie Archives
  • David E. Schindel Archives
  • Hugo R. Greiner Archives
  • Adolf Seilacher Archives
  • Ian G. Speden Archives
  • Charles W. Thayer Archives
  • William H. Twenhofel Archives
  • Frederick A. Braun Archives
  • Derek E. Briggs Archives
  • Karl M. Waage Archives
  • Susan H. Butts Archives
  • Russell D. White Archives
  • Othniel Charles Marsh Archives
  • Copeland MacClintock Archives
  • Charles A. & June R. P. Ross Archives
  • Division of Invertebrate Paleontology Archives   



Invertebrate Zoology

  • Addison Emery Verrill Archives
  • Division of Invertebrate Zoology Archives
  • United States Fisheries Commission Archives
  • Sidney Irving Smith Archives
  • Katharine Jeanette Bush Archives
  • Willard Daniel Hartman Archives
  • Charles Emerson Beecher Archives
  • James Dwight Dana Archives
  • Wesley Roswell Coe Archives
  • Bingham Oceanographic Collection
  • George M. Gray Museum Archives



  • James D. Dana Archives
  • Horace Winchell Archives


Museum Archives




Vertebrate Paleontology

  • Division of Vertebrate Paleontology Archives
  • Othniel Charles Marsh Archives
  • Yale College Scientific Expedition of 1870 Archives
  • George Peabody Archives
  • Joseph Tracy Gregory Archives
  • John Bell Hatcher Archives
  • Glenn Lowell Jepsen Archives
  • Charles R. Knight Archives
  • Arthur Lakes Archives
  • G. Edward Lewis Archives
  • Richard Swann Lull Archives
  • John H. Ostrom Archives
  • Elwyn LaVerne Simons Archives
  • William John Sinclair Archives
  • Malcolm Rutherford Thorpe Archives


Vertebrate Zoology

  • Division of Vertebrate Zoology Archives



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.



Oral Histories


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.


  • Mike Coe, Anthropology Professor Emeritus and Curator Emeritus
  • Hal Conklin, Anthropology Professor Emeritus and Curator Emeritus
  • Cope MacClintock, retired Peabody administrator and Invertebrate Paleontology Assistant
  • John McIntosh, Wesleyan University Emeritus
  • Leo Pospisil, Anthropology Professor Emeritus and Curator Emeritus
  • Brian Skinner, Geology & Geophysics Professor Emeritus


Previous recordings


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.


  • Charles Remington, Biology Professor Emeritus and Curator Emeritus in Entomology.
  • Carl O. Dunbar, Geology Professor Emeritus and Curator Emeritus in Invertebrate Paleontology.


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