The Archives preserves the Museum’s history through a trove of documents dating to the institution’s pre-history. With over 2000 linear feet of records, we preserve the stories behind how museum staff conducted research, designed exhibits, pursued initiatives, and developed programs.
Our records tie back to the earliest days of the museum, starting with the original specimen slips for the collection that inspired the creation of the museum – the taxidermy collection of Edwin Carter. Carter’s field notes are modest scraps of paper with dates and measurements of each specimen collected, and are the first catalog of the Museum’s first collection.
We also have correspondence surrounding the discovery and excavation of the Dent Site in the 1930s, field notes from decades of international expeditions to acquire specimens for dioramas and research, and records for recent and long-gone exhibitions. We also keeps objects from the Museum’s past that help tell the story of the institution, its work, and the people that made it happen; such as equipment used to make dioramas, and tools used in field collecting.
We serve Museum staff looking for information on historic events, details on specimens in the collection, or any number of other questions about the Museum’s past. We also host outside researchers who might need supplemental information about specimens like meteorites or insects managed by our colleagues, or might simply want to examine our papers for examples of how museum work has changed over time.
The Image Archives
The image archives collection, established in 1977, is the official central repository of the Museum’s owned photography and moving images, and a large sculpture collection. These materials support internal staff, scholars, and commercial enterprises. More than 20,000 images from these collections are digitized and give insight into early exhibit making, school programs, taxidermy work, and the now famous 1927 Folsom point discovery in Dent, Colorado, to name a few. And least we forget, the largest excavation in Museum history, the Snowmastodon Project. See our digital collections online on Luna.
These collections provide insight into a world in transition. Highlights include historic images of the museum from the very beginning, both in the field and in the collections. There are over 4,400 titles in the moving image collection covering international expeditions throughout the 20th century as well as rare subjects like the now extinct Dusky Seaside sparrow and interviews with World War II Navajo code talkers.
We also house a significant Film Archive with collections of fieldwork and natural history films created by staff and Director Alfred M. Bailey. The Bailey films were internationally renowned in the 1950’s and ‘60s and still delight audiences today.