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John C. Warren papers

Identifier: VPA 116

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of materials relating to the mastodon specimen bought by the museum from Dr. Warren's family in 1906. It consists of papers and illustrations.

The papers include

  1. copies of correspondence between Warren and other researchers
  2. copies of pages from the Visitors' Book from the Warren Museum in Boston
  3. copy of a letter from Dr. Matthew sent to Frederic Augustus Lucas (director of the museum) listing specimens from Warren collection that were transfered to Department of Mammalogy and Ornithology, Department of Ichthyology and Herpetology, Department of Invertebrate Zoology, and Department of Physiology.

The visual materials include

  1. Painting of the mastodon fossil in situ by Robert Bakewell, 1846.
  2. Oversize drawings and prints mostly of mammoth fossils. Some of the drawings are signed by Benjamin F. Nutting and they have been used by Dr. Warren in his book The Mastodon Giganteus of North American, published in 1851.
  3. Small format photographs stored together with the papers. These include a black and white print of the mastodon skeleton being wheeled into the galery from around 1907 and black and white prints of the location where the mastodon was excavated with the grandson of the farmer who found the fossil. These photographs date from 1922.


  • 1831-1963; 1968-1970
  • Majority of material found in 1831-1906


Conditions Governing Access

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

Biographical / Historical

The collection consists of papers and illustrations associated with the mastodon skeleton bought by the American Museum of Natural History from the Warren Museum in 1906.

The skeleton was excavated in 1845 on a farm near the town of Newburgh in New York State. It is the most complete mastodon skeleton found to this date. The fossil was aquired by Dr. John Collins Warren and was displayed in his museum in Boston.

Dr. Warren published a book The Mastodon Giganteus of North America in 1852 describing the excavation and the fossil itself.

When the contents of the Warren Museum, including the Warren mastodon were purchased by the museum, the family also transfered Dr. Warren letters pertaining to his interest in the subject and illustrations, some of which were used in The Mastodon Giganteus of North America book.

In 1960 The library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University forwarded the visitor's book from the Warren Museum to AMNH.


5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The paper portion of the collection is arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Warren Museum

Separated Materials

Some of the material related to Warren mastodon fossil are kept in the library.

  1. Warren Mastodon illustration
  2. originals of Warren letters
  3. original Visitor's Book from the Warren Museum

Physical Description

1 half size document box, 2 oversized boxes with drawings and prints and 1 rolled painting

Other Identifiers

originally 4:7; 4:8; 5:8 later 5:4; 7:5; 9:3

VPA 43

John C. Warren papers, 1831-1963; 1968-1970
2021 February
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • October 7, 2022: Creating a complete finding aid

Repository Details

Part of the Vertebrate Paleontology Archives Repository

200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024-5192