Department of Vertebrate Paleontology fossil fish collections
Scope and Contents
The materials in this collection are correspondence, records, notebooks, drawings, photos, illustrations, and maps that pertain to fossil fish reports of finds, distribution and cataloguing, descriptions and publications, private and museum collections, exchanges, purchases, gifts, and exhibitions activities. This collection originally belonged to the Department of Ichthyology and Herpetology, then in 1944 moved to the Department of Geology and Paleontology, which is now the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology. The moves produced some disorder in the records and correspondence. To create a logical order for the collection, the materials are filed by subject and placed alphabetically within each box.
See VPA 1, Department of Vertebrate Paleontology general correspondence files for: Hussakof, L., letter dated December 1, 1944, regarding fossil fish collection move; and Gregory, W. K.; Herman, G.; Sternberg, George F.; Eastman, C. R., for additional reference and information regarding the fossil fish collections.
Box 1 (1912-1975) contains correspondence regarding fossil fish exchanges, donations, sales, type specimens, distribution, and cataloging. Concern matters in Algeria, Cameroon, Beirut, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and England, includes a memo to Simpson regarding cataloging collection and microfilming (folder 8).
Box 2 (1884, 1906-1976) contains correspondence about fossil fish species groups, exchanges and purchases, loans and gifts, and specimen finds. Includes Bashford Dean letters (1906-1918) to Lee R. Craig, B. and A. Hauff, Thomas Illidge, F. Krantz, Colin Norris, Charles Sternberg and E. Waite regarding inventory of Newberry Collection (folder 1); The Bashford Dean Memorial Exhibit, titled “Four Hundred Years of Fish History,” June 1929 (folder 2); Frick Collection list of specimens, 1930-1969, catalogued by John G. Lundberg, 1970 (folder 4); notebook containing handmade drawings of sections and various views of Palaeaspis (folder 23).
Box 3 (1897, 1905-1943, 1951) contains folders of William K. Gregory publications in the New York Academy of Sciences Section of Biology (1905-1943); Science, Evening Post, The Scientific Monthly, Popular Science Monthly, Journal of Paleontology (1897-1951); and aerial photos, old maps, and Laudon’s map of Wapiti Lake, British Columbia (folder 4).
1 wrapped package containing photo album of fossil fish specimens, includes 3 envelops with undated material.
Box 4 (1860s-1880s) contains the John S. Newberry Papers of correspondence, a collection of original handwritten letters.
* Folder 1 (1902-1977) Correspondence: disposal of collections and records.
* Folder 2 (1886-1890) Letters: Frank Becker, William Borden, Alex Butters (condition restricted), William Clark.
* Folder 3 (1882-1870) Letters: Wm. M. Fontaine, W. D. Gebbard, G. K. Gilbert.
* Folder 4 (1871-1890) Letters: S. F. Kend, William Kepler, J. Klippurt.
* Folder 5 (1862-1886) Letters: O. C. Marsh, William McAdams, S. W. Loper, A. Lully, Edward Orton, R. B. Rousse.
* Folder 6 (1885-1889) Letters: M. S. Statler, Tomas Stock, Park Terrell, Jay Terrell, R. S. Traquois, J. Ward, A. S. Woodward.
* Folder 7 (1880s): miscellaneous notes and prints undated and often unsigned, Part I.
* Folder 8 (1880s): miscellaneous notes and lists undated and often unsigned, Part II.
* Folder 9 (1860s-1880s): fragmentary notes.
* Envelope 10 Notebook: list of people who received a copy of the Geological Survey of Ohio Report, Vol. 1 (1873).
* Envelope 11 Notebook: Geological Survey of Ohio fossils and locations.
* Envelope 12 Notebook: Ohio Geological Survey notes and sections of 1st District.
* Envelope 13 Notebook: brief notes, mostly on Triassic fishes.
* Envelope 14 Notebook: 2 detail drawings of Catopterus redfieldi (fig. 5 & 6).
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. https://www.amnh.org/research/paleontology/collections/vertebrate-paleontology-archives
The collections of Fossil Fish were originally part of the Department of Ichthyology and Herpetology. In 1944 (see letter in Hussakof correspondence Dec. 1, 1944) they were moved to the Department of Geology and Paleontology, which later became the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology. Bashford Dean (1867-1928) was a curator of arms and armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and honorary curator of the Department of Ichthyology at the American Museum of Natural History. He also was a professor of zoology at Columbia University. Dean's interest in armor and fishes began in his early childhood. He attended college at the City College of New York, studied geology and fossil fishes at Columbia University and received a Ph.D. from Columbia University at 23 years of age, his dissertation was entitled "Pineal Fontanelle of Placoderm and Catfish." As the curator of the Department of Fishes at the AMNH, Dean, along with his assistant, Louis Hussakof, planned and directed the installation of a series of mounted habitat groups, illustrating the life and habits of the ganoid fishes. He and his staff also installed the synoptic exhibit of fishes and the "fossil aquarium," containing life-like restorations of many of the fossil fishes of the Old Red Sandstone of Scotland. The AMNH assisted in his extensive work, "Bibliography of Fishes." (source: William K. Gregory, Science, December 28, 1928, Volume 68, No. 1774, pages 635-638.) Bashford Dean was appointed Curator of Fishes and Reptiles in the then newly created Department of Ichythology and Herpetology in 1909. In 1913 he was given the rank of Curator Emeritus through 1917. He held the title Honorary Curator until his death in 1928.
3 Linear Feet (4 boxes and 2 packages)
Chronologically within folders.
Historic Call Number: 2:4 and 2:5
- Sternfeld, Ruth, d. 2007 (Compiler, Person)
- American Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Paleontology fossil fish collections, 1862-1980
- Melissa Silvestri, Allyson Mellone, Alana Gishlick, 2021
- 2021 August
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- Minimal level collection record created with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for America grant, 2020.