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James L. Clark exhibitions working files

Identifier: PPC .C533

Scope and Contents

This collection includes field photography from various expeditions, scientific study photography for the creation of the exhibits, and documentation of diorama production and notes for future repair and maintenance. The photographs date from the late 1890s to the late 1950s. The majority of the photographs, however, are dated between 1920 and 1940. The following is the series and subseries within the collection:

Series I: African Mammals Series II: Asian Mammals Series III: North American Mammals Series IV: Diorama Background, Africa Series V: Diorama Background, North America Series VI: Marine Mammals and Birds Series VII: Bird Halls Subseries I: Whitney Hall of Birds Subseries II: Sanford Hall of North American Birds Subseries III: Birds of the World Hall Series VIII: Hall of Landscape Series IX: Temporary Exhibits/Miscellaneous Series X: Loaned Exhibits Display Cards Series XI: James L. Clark Negatives (Working Files & Visual Resource Finding Aids).


  • 1879-1959
  • Majority of material found within 1916-1959


Conditions Governing Access

• Fragile. Handle with care (please see “Condition” section). • Requests to use the collection should be made in advance to the Museum Archivist, who may be contacted at 212-769-5420 or at [email protected]

Conditions Governing Use

The American Museum of Natural History does not hold copyright to all images used in this collection. The rights to the various clippings belong to their original publications and other attributed institutions. All of the original pictures mounted for exhibition belong to the Museum.

Biographical / Historical

James Lippit Clark (1883-1969) was a distinguished explorer scientist and artist of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a former president of the Campfire Club of America. He was co-director of the Morden-Clark Asiatic Expedition and, for a number of years, he explored with Carl Akeley in Africa. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, in November of 1883, Clark’s main focus of study included taxidermy, animal sculpture and exploration. In 1933, he was awarded an honorary degree of D.Sc from West Virginia Wesleyan. Clark was first employed at the Museum from 1902 to 1908, and again from 1923 to 1969. He participated in more than twenty expeditions around the world. Clark’s published books include the Trails of the Hunted and Recreating the American Wilderness. As an expert taxidermist, Clark was instrumental with many of the more notable diorama productions at the American Museum of Natural History, many of which are currently on display. He was also a gifted sculptor of wild animals.


21 Linear Feet (21 boxes)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

These files were originally created and kept in the American Museum of Natural History Exhibition Department and were used by the department until 1998. Some parts of this collection were departmental files and other parts were personal files belonging to James L. Clark. This collection was transferred to the Special Collection in 2010.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Exhibition Department, AMNH.

Condition Note

Condition: Fragile. Both the cardboard files and their images are slowly disintegrating. The photographs are separating from the boards on which they were originally mounted, and are also fading. When handling and working with this collection, attention must be made to a gentle removal of folders, and their careful placement back in their respective Box. Folders should be removed vertically to prevent items from detaching. While conducting research, please place any photograph or clipped image that detaches from the board into their corresponding folder, and notify the library staff. Do not remove a single item from a box; instead always remove the full folder from the box before examining individual items. These cards are best handled with cotton gloves. All loose photographs that have not been placed inside plastic sleeves MUST be handled with cotton gloves.

Separated Materials

James L. Clark files included artworks and hand drawn materials that have been separated and organized independently. They have been placed as: James L. Clark Studio Drawings 1-4 of 7 boxes and James L. Clark Studio Outline Charts 5-7 of 7 boxes. These separate materials also include Herbarum specimens (bar code 100139879-100139893 and 100137837) (Please see insert). In addition, negatives found in this collection have been removed for preservation purposes, and placed into a box titled: James L. Clark Exhibitions Negatives (See Series X).

Physical Description

Physical Description: This collection includes photographs, handwritten notes, clipped and printed images, and related captions from periodicals, mounted on 10”X14” thick pieces of cardboard. These large cards were used in the preparation and installation of various permanent and temporary exhibitions at the American Museum of Natural History. The exhibitions included the African, Asian, and North American Halls of Mammals, the Whitney Memorial Hall of Oceanic (Pacific) Birds, the Sanford Hall of North American Birds—which was previously referred to as the Chapman Hall of North American Birds and later as the Sanford Hall of Bird Biology—the Hall of Ecology, the Hall of Landscape, and the Hall of North American Forests—which was previously referred to as the Forestry Hall and now encompasses the former Warburg Memorial Hall. A few of these exhibition halls, such as the Whitney Memorial Hall of Oceanic (Pacific) Birds, the Sanford Hall of Bird Biology, the Chapman Hall of North American Birds, the Forestry Hall, and the Warburg Memorial Hall, are now closed. For more information on Clark’s own account of creating the North American hall of mammals, you can also read “Recreating the American Wilderness”, Natural History, from Vol. 40, Dec 1937, 748-52.

Some of the cardboard files and photographs have handwritten notes inscribed by James L. Clark himself as well as by other museum staff members. Some of the photographs, which have since separated from their mounted boards, include additional information on their reverse sides, attributing the photographer, the institution and agencies from which these images were commissioned, as well as the places where they were presented. Photographs that were found at the bottom of the original filing cabinets and could not be identified have been placed in the general folder related to the particular series.

James L. Clark exhibitions working files, 1879-1959 (bulk 1916-1959)
Multilevel Complete
Mohammad Salemy, Natalie Savits, and Hadass Blank
June-August 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation provided support to make this finding aid available in ArchivesSpace (2016-2017).

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