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James L. Clark exhibitions visual resource files

Identifier: PPC .C532

Scope and Contents

The James L. Clark files were created and maintained from 1920 until 1955. The majority of these materials, however, date between 1920 and1940. The collection was used as a visual resource reference guide for the American Museum of Natural History staff in preparation for creating exhibits and dioramas or for quick visual reference. It features newspaper spreads, magazine clippings, prints, as well as drawings and letters, which were attached with glue to one or both sides of the file folder. The collection is organized into seven series: Series I: Ethnology Series II: Expeditions Series III: Earth Sciences Series IV: Archaeology Series V: Museum Preparations Series VI: The Animal Kingdom Subseries I: Mammals Subseries II: Herpetology Subseries III: Invertebrates Subseries IV: Birds Subseries V: Fish Series VII: The Plant Kingdom Series VIII: Miscellaneous Clippings --------------------------------- Series XI: James L. Clark Negatives (Working Files & Visual Resource Finding Aids). [Note: See James L. Clark Exhibitions Working Files Finding Aid, Series XI, Box 22*, to locate negatives from the James L. Clark Visual Resource Collection.]

The Ethnology series contains clippings and photographs pertaining to the Ethnology studies of James L. Clark. The series is organized geographically and the bulk of the materials are on Africa, North American Indians, and the South Seas.

The Expeditions series contains picture clippings, newspaper spreads, and magazine articles documenting various expeditions, many of which were funded and executed through the American Museum of Natural History. The series is organized geographically.

The Earth Sciences series contains picture clippings, newspaper spreads, and magazine articles pertaining to Geology, Meteorology, and Astronomy.

The Archaeology series contains picture clippings, newspaper spreads, and magazine articles documenting various archaeological sites throughout the world. The series is organized geographically.

The Museum Preparations series contains picture and article clippings from newspapers and magazines, photographic prints, and letters used to document the research and progression of exhibit creation at American Museum of Natural History. The majority of the materials feature images used for restoration and paleontology fossils used to create and maintain dioramas at the museum.

The Animal Kingdom series contains clippings from newspapers and magazines describing various members of the animal kingdom. This series is divided into five Sub Series: Mammals, Herpetology, Invertebrates, and Birds.

The Miscellaneous Clippings series contains clippings from newspapers and magazines, which were separated and placed in folders in preparation for their addition to the visual resource, file folder system used throughout the other series of this collection. The clippings’ subject primarily fit within the Animal Kingdom, but also relate to earth science and ethnology themes.


  • 1879-1959
  • Majority of material found within 1916-1959


Conditions Governing Access

• Fragile. Handle with care (please see “Condition” section). • Requests to use the collection should be made in advance to the Museum Archivist, who may be contacted at 212-769-5420 or at [email protected]

Copyright Information

The American Museum of Natural History does not hold copyright to all images used in this collection. The rights to the various clippings belong to their original publications and other attributed institutions. All of the original pictures mounted for exhibition belong to the Museum.

Biographical / Historical

James Lippit Clark (1883-1969) was a distinguished explorer scientist and artist of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a former president of the Campfire Club of America. He was co-director of the Morden-Clark Asiatic Expedition and, for a number of years, he explored with Carl Akeley in Africa. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, in November of 1883, Clark’s main focus of study included taxidermy, animal sculpture and exploration. In 1933, he was awarded an honorary degree of D.Sc from West Virginia Wesleyan. Clark was first employed at the Museum from 1902 to 1908, and again from 1923 to 1969. He participated in more than twenty expeditions around the world. Clark’s published books include the Trails of the Hunted and Recreating the American Wilderness. As an expert taxidermist, Clark was instrumental with many of the more notable diorama productions at the American Museum of Natural History, many of which are currently on display. He was also a gifted sculptor of wild animals.


29 Linear Feet (29 boxes)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

These files were originally created and kept in the American Museum of Natural History Exhibition Department and were used by the department until 1998. Some parts of this collection were departmental files and other parts were personal files belonging to James L. Clark. This collection was transferred to the Special Collection in 2010.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Exhibition Department, AMNH.

Condition Note

Condition: Fragile. Both the cardboard files and their images are slowly disintegrating. The photographs are separating from the boards on which they were originally mounted, and are also fading. When handling and working with this collection, attention must be made to a gentle removal of folders, and their careful placement back in their respective Box. Folders should be removed vertically to prevent items from detaching. While conducting research, please place any photograph or clipped image that detaches from the board into their corresponding folder, and notify the library staff. Do not remove a single item from a box; instead always remove the full folder from the box before examining individual items. These cards are best handled with cotton gloves. There are many photographs in the Miscellaneous Clipping series that have not been put in plastic sleeve. These photographs MUST be handled with cotton gloves.

Physical Description

Physical Description: This collection includes photographs, handwritten notes, drawings, clipped and printed images, and related text articles from periodicals that documented James L. Clark’s expeditions to various parts of the world. These materials were predominately used for the research, creation, and production of the exhibitions for the American Museum of Natural History, particularly with the dioramas in the African, Asian, and North American Halls of Mammals, as well as the Whitney Hall of Birds (as opposed to the Working Files, which were displayed in the actual exhibits). Mounted on 10”X14” thick pieces of cardboard, these cards include images and original articles about Clark’s research in ethnography, earth sciences, archaeology, museum preparations, and the animal kingdom. Some of the cardboard files and photographs have handwritten notes inscribed by James L. Clark himself as well as by other museum staff members. In addition, the layout of these cards, and the language of the text are representative of the Orientalist opinions of that time in history.

Some of the photographs, which have since separated from their mounted boards, include additional information on their reverse sides, attributing the photographer, the institution and agencies from which these images were commissioned, as well as the places where they were presented. Photographs that were found at the bottom of the original filing cabinets and could not be identified have been placed in the general folder related to the particular series.

This collection is digitized for preservation purposes, and is on the servers at the Special Collections.

James L. Clark exhibitions visual resource files, 1879-1959 (bulk 1916-1959)
Mohammad Salemy, Natalie Savits, and Hadass Blank
June-August, 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation provided support to make this finding aid available in ArchivesSpace (2016-2017).

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024 USA
(212) 769-5420