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Eugene S. Gaffney Papers

Identifier: VPA 133


  • 1897-2024


Biographical / Historical

Eugene S. Gaffney is a prominent paleontologist whose work focused on the use of morphology and systematics to analyze the shared characteristics, unique differences, and development of turtles. Gaffney traveled extensively in the Americas, Europe, and Australia surveying the fossil holdings of various institutions with a standardized system of description and illustration. Through this deep engagement with the fossil record, Gaffney analyzed shared characteristics, unique differences, and development of turtles resulting in the detailed description of taxa from both the cryptodire and pleurodire groups. Additionally, Gaffney worked in the field including multiple trips to Lord Howe Island off the east coast of Australia to excavate fossils of the large Meiolania turtle.

Educated at Rutgers University and Columbia University, Gaffney joined the staff of the American Museum of Natural History in 1970 as an Associate Curator in the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology. In 1980 he became the Curator of the department and held this position until his retirement in 2011. In addition to his work with the Department of Vertebrae Paleontology, Gaffney was also involved in developing fossil exhibitions including From the Land of Dragons (1988-1989) and the multi-year renovation of the museum's permament fossil hall exhibitions.


77 boxes (62 letter-sized boxes, 12 legal sized boxes, 2 oversized boxes, and one custom-made box. )

Language of Materials


Eugene S. Gaffney papers, 1897-2024
Sabrina Moore, Mike Yates, 2024
2024 June
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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This finding aid was created with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for America grant, 2024.

Repository Details

Part of the Vertebrate Paleontology Archives Repository

200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024-5192