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Correspondence and diaries, 1906-1993

Identifier: VPA 127

Scope and Contents

This series is composed of 33 boxes containing the notebooks, diaries, correspondence, photographs, and other personal papers of Morris F. Skinner. It is a consolidation of the old VPA collections 24, 27a, and 27b.

Boxes 1 & 1A through 19 (1906 – 1982) contain personal papers, correspondence, administrative documents,, field and study notes, maps, charts, photographs, original plates, drawings, materials for his bison study. Box 13 also contains an oral history interview transcription from 1981. Some notable names that are mentioned are Ted Galusha, Jean Hough, F. Walker Johnson, and Childs Frick. Some of the contents are photocopy reproductions of earlier materials.

Boxes 20 to 29 (1928 – 1989) contain 49 original field notebooks, 37 diaries detailing Skinner’s daily professional and personal life, photographs, and various other correspondence and personal papers. The field notebooks record information on first semester work, camera equipment, personal notations, survey 1936, Shirley M. Skinner DVP, and field sections

Boxes 30 to 32 (1936 – 1993) contain various papers, photographs, field notebooks, and correspondence. After Morris F. Skinner died in Ainsworth, Nebraska in 1989, his wife, Marie, donated his 33 pocket notebooks or field notebooks dating from 1936 - 1980 and 13 black notebooks or box lists from 1938-1972. The field diaries and notebooks had been stored in Ainsworth until Morris Skinner's death. They are mainly written in pencil and are rather fragile. The 33 field notebooks between 1936 and 1980 contain notes on geologic sections, Tucson, Badlands, Florida, Agate, and North Dakota. Diary 6 from this group includes notes from Ralph Mefferds’ 1939 work in the Badlands of South Dakota. The 13 black notebooks are divided as follows: 8 field notebooks (labelled volumes 2 to 9) with notes from Ainsworth, Burge Quarry, 1934 to 1972, box lists 242 to 862; and 5 field notebooks (labelled S1 to S5) from Sioux County, Nebraska and Hay Springs, 1941 to 1972, box lists 322 to 620. These “box lists” contain information about the boxes of specimens shipped to the Museum for the Frick Collection. The pocket notebooks contain anything that Skinner was involved with at the time, scientific and personal. They include, among other things, shopping lists, sections, accounts of expenses, box lists, box weights, water levels, several diary segments, auto and gas records, tire inventories, Sioux words, phone numbers and addresses, real estate records, work and pay records, time records, ash samples, fission tracks, and blood pressure readings. There are loose papers, which were found in the various notebooks, that were placed into envelopes and identified. The envelopes and contents will be noted on the book list. These envelopes are larger than the ones used for the pocket books. Finally, there is a note on the back of the First Ainsworth Box List 1933, written sometime after Childs Frick's death, which gives a short history of the M.F. Skinner Collection and the recording of it.

Box Contents

Box 1
Correspondence [arranged alphabetically]
Box 1A
Correspondence M-O-P [- Q] [arranged alphabetically]
Box 2
Correspondence R–Y [arranged alphabetically] & Administration
Box 3
Administration; includes annual reports
Box 4
Administration & Field Notes/Study Notes
Box 5
Field Notes/Study Notes
Box 6
Field Notes/Study Notes & Publications
Box 7
Publications/Study Notes
Box 8
Maps, Charts, Sketches
Box 9
Maps, Charts, Sketches
Box 10
Maps, Charts, Sketches
Box 11
Highway Road Maps, Alabama to Mexico [arranged mostly alphabetically]
Box 12
Highway Road Maps, Michigan to Wyoming [arranged mostly alphabetically]
Box 13
Photographs and Drawings & Oral History
Box 14
Bison Study
Box 15
Bison Study
Box 16
Bison Study
Box 17
Bison Study
Box 18
Bison Study
Box 19
Bison Study
Box 20
Field notebooks, 1930 – 1969
Box 21
Field Notebooks & Correspondence, 1928 – 1966
Box 22
Field Notebooks & photographs, 1937 – 1948
Box 23
Field Notebooks, 1949 – 1978
Box 24
Diaries, 1953 – 1959
Box 25
Diaries, 1960 – 1966
Box 26
Diaries 1967 – 1973
Box 27
Diaries 1974 – 1980
Box 28
Diaries, 1981 – 1986
Box 29
Field Notebooks, diaries, & photos
Box 30
Field Notebooks and miscellaneous materials, 1936 – 1962
Box 31
Field Notebooks 1963 – 1980; Ainsworth Diaries 1935 – 1972; Sioux Co. Diaries 1941 – 1972
Box 32
Papers, Photographs, Field Notebooks, and correspondence, 1933 – 1993


  • 1906-1993

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed in the Division of Paleontology. Please contact the collection manager for access; materials are sometimes restricted.


13.5 Linear Feet (33 boxes)

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English


Boxes 1 - 29: Chronological and by subject; Boxes 30 - 32: By location and chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Marie Skinner (Morris Skinner's spouse).


Based on Ruth Sternfeld's historic finding aid, Binder 7.

Historic Call Number: E4:1-E4:2, Formerly VPA 27b; Historic Call Number: 4:1 to 4:5, Formerly VPA 24; Historic Call Number: was 8:4 now 4:7, Formerly VPA 27a.


Repository Details

Part of the Vertebrate Paleontology Archives Repository

200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024-5192