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Chester Reeds papers

Identifier: MSS .R44

Scope and Contents

Two folders containing typewritten notes and correspondence between Chester A. Reeds and others (including Charles P. Berkey, Roy Chapman Andrews, and William Diller Matthews) with regards to Reeds’s editorial work. One folder containing Reeds’s own notes and drafts. Nineteen folders containing correspondence organized in alphabetical order. Four folders containing typewritten and handwritten notes by Chester A. Reeds regarding an issue of Natural History entitled ‘The Romance of Fossil-Hunting.’ Another nineteen folders of alphabetized correspondence pertaining to this particular issue of Natural History, including correspondence from Roy Chapman Andrews, Barnum Brown, Charles P. Berkey, Henry Fields Osborn, and others. This correspondence often takes the form of Reeds asking esteemed professionals to contribute articles to the Natural History issue and their replies (in many cases polite refusals due to being too busy). In cases in which the authors were able to contribute, their drafts occasionally appear with changes and suggestions made by Reeds, the editor. The alphabetized folders also include carbon copies of letters Reeds sent to his colleagues, peers, and even family when he mailed out the completed Natural History magazine issue to them to read.


  • 1924-1930
  • Majority of material found in 1926


Access Conditions and Restrictions

Requests to use the collection should be made in advance to the Special Collections Librarian, who may be contacted at 212-769-5420 or at [email protected]

Biographical Note

Chester Albert Reeds (1882-1968) was a geologist and museum curator. Born on July 20, 1882 in La Cygne, Kansas, Reeds spent various parts of his childhood moving around the Midwestern United States. He later went to the University of Oklahoma, majoring in geology and playing on the football team. Reeds received his degree in 1907, then went on to Yale for his Master’s (1907) and Doctorate (1910). After teaching at Bryn Mawr, he proceeded to his post at the American Museum of Natural History; officially employed as of August 1, 1912, he remained at the Museum until his retirement on April 15, 1938.

Reeds’s fields of investigation were geology and invertebrate paleontology. He was hired as the Assistant Curator of the Department of Geology and Invertebrate Paleontology, became Associate Curator as of January 1, 1918 (appointed 12/19/1917), and eventually became Curator on January 3, 1927. Reeds also served as the editor for Division I of the AMNH Publication Committee, and in this capacity he oversaw publications when they involved geology and paleontology. Reeds passed away in Ghent, New York, at the age of 86 on October 4, 1968.

Historical Note

HISTORICAL NOTE The papers in this collection primarily deal with Chester A. Reeds’s editorial work pertaining to one particular issue of Natural History magazine that ran in September-October 1926. Prior to the magazine’s founding, scientific bulletins were released containing research and findings; the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History began in 1881. The Museum eventually sought to publish its findings for a wider audience, which led to the development of a popular magazine. (1) Its initial mission, as outlined in its first issue (April 1900), was to

“give the museum news in popular and interesting form, as a medium for the prompt acknowledgement of gifts and for making widely known our needs…In brief, the Journal will keep members informed of all that is going on, and we trust will widen the circle of interest in this noble institution for the education of the people and the diffusion of natural sciences.” (2)

Founded in 1900-01 by the American Museum of Natural History, Natural History ran as the American Museum Journal through 1918, becoming Natural History in 1919. Throughout its 114-year history, Natural History has featured many of the brightest minds in the field as authors, and the September-October 1926 edition, published during the post-Bone Wars era of paleontology, sought to promote the mystique of paleontology to its readers; indeed, this particular issue, to which this collection is directly related, was titled The Romance of Fossil Hunting. Natural History is currently operated by Howard Richman after being purchased by a company headed by Charles Harris in 2002. (3) Natural History does retain an affiliation with AMNH to this day, although the museum is no longer responsible for its publication. The magazine’s mission today is “to promote understanding and appreciation of the world around us.” (4)

1. The Bulletin never stopped running. It still updates to this day. 2. American Museum Journal, April 1900. 3. Wikipedia. 4. Natural History’s website.


1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



2 boxes containing 52 folders of correspondence, typescript, handwritten notes, and printed images (maps, illustrations, etc.), most of which relates to the September-October 1926 issue of Natural History entitled The Romance of Fossil Hunting.


2 boxes. 20 folders in box 1; 32 folders in box 2. Arranged alphabetically in the case of correspondence and by chapter in the case of the Natural History articles.


Appears to be in relatively good condition, although some papers have worn/damaged edges and show signs of water damage. There is also some rust residue from previously used paper clips.

Related Materials

Chester A. Reeds Mongolia Studies papers (Mss .R441). The creator of this collection, Reeds has another, smaller collection also in the AMNH holdings. It pertains to his work as the editor of volume 1 of Natural History of Central Asia and dates to 1932.

Roy Chapman Andrews papers (Mss .A51-A54). Andrews was the head of the Central Asiatic Expeditions and one of the authors of the volume these papers pertain to.

Frederick B. Butler collection on the 1925 field season of the Third Asiatic Expedition (Mss. B88). The findings of this expedition (and the other Central Asiatic Expeditions) can be found in the finished publication (Natural History of Central Asia).

Central Asiatic Expeditions papers (Mss .C446). As mentioned above, the findings of the Central Asiatic Expeditions are the subject of the published volume that these papers pertain to.

William Diller Matthew papers (Mss .M338). A frequent correspondent of Chester Reeds and a participant in the Central Asiatic Expeditions, Matthew’s papers are recommended reading for anyone interested in the CAE or publications related to it (including this volume, of which he was one of the authors).

Natural history of Central Asia; v. 1 The new conquest of central Asia: a narrative of the explorations of the Central Asiatic expeditions in Mongolia and China, 1921-1930 ? by Roy Chapman Andrews; with chapters by Walter Granger, Clifford H. Pope, Nels C. Nelson, and summary statements by G.M. Allen, R.C. Andrews, C.P. Berkey… [et al.]; with 128 plates and 12 illustrations in the text and three maps at end. The notes and chapters contained within this collection are drafts of the chapters in this volume.

Physical Description

Box 1: 20 folders of typescript, handwritten notes, and printed images (maps, illustrations, etc.). Box 2: 32 folders of correspondence, typescript, handwritten notes, and printed images (maps, illustrations, etc.).

Chester Albert Reeds papers, 1924-1930 (bulk 1926)
Multilevel Complete
Stephanie Diorio
October 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Language of description note
The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation provided support to make this finding aid available in ArchivesSpace (2016-2017). Finding aid created with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Hidden Collections grant, 2012.
Edition statement
Information for this finding aid expanded on the original catalog record written by Ann Herendeen, 2004.

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