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Department of Vertebrate Paleontology departmental records

Identifier: VPA 4

Scope and Contents

The Department of Vertebrate Paleontology began as a new department of the American Museum of Natural History with the arrival of Henry Fairfield Osborn (1857-1935) as curator in 1891. The years following are marked with substantial areas of growth in the department’s paleontology collections and scientific staff. The department’s records spanning 1924-1979 were deposited in the VP Archives at different times and in separate groupings. It has not always been possible to determine if files came from a secretary’s or chairman’s department office. The result is a collection with duplicated records and overlapping dates.

This collecton contains personnel, administrative, departmental events, council matters, expeditions, and financial records of the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology. Boxes 1-4 (1924-1959) consist of annual reports; personnel matters; general Museum matters; council decisions; finances; expeditions and biographical sketches. Boxes 5-9 (1924-1966) consist of administrative files arranged into sub-groups. Dates in some instances start as early as 1928 and continue to 1965, with main dates primarily 1933-1965. Boxes 10-12 (1964-1977) consist largely of administrative records from Bobb Schaeffer’s Chairmanship period (1966 to 1978) arranged by subject as they were handled during his departmental tenure. Includes administrative files from the Frick Lab Endowment Fund (1964-1970). Curatorial personnel folders on Edwin H. Colbert (1966-1970); Eugene Gaffney (1969-1976); Ted Galusha (1968-1979); Malcom C. McKenna (1967-1977); Bobb Schaeffer (1957-1977); Morris Skinner (1928, 1954, 1966-1976); Beryl E. Taylor (1968-1972); Richard H. Tedford (1966-1976); and support staff job descriptions, Research Associates Letters of appointment and some c.v. Also included are review of relations and intents of incorporation (1969) with Columbia University and matters with Museum of Texas Tech University regarding Data Conventions for Specimen Record file.


  • 1924-1979


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

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


6 Linear Feet (12 boxes)


Arranged by subject matter and chronologically within each subject.

Related Archival Material

VPA 21, VPA 22, VPA 56a


Historic Call Number: 1:3/1:4/1:5

American Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Paleontology departmental records, 1924-1979
Melissa Silvestri, Allyson Mellone, Alana Gishlick, 2021
2021 August
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Minimal level collection record created with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for America grant, 2020.

Repository Details

Part of the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology Archives Repository

200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024-5192