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Department of Vertebrate Paleontology photograph collection and scrapbooks

Identifier: VPA 29

Scope and Contents

Department of Vertebrate Paleontology Photo Collection is grouped into four subcollections that contain, in a range of sizes, photographic prints of field exploration, field localities, work culture and staff portraits, as well as photographic records of restorations and ariel views. Included in this Collection are oversized drawings and sketches, photo albums and scrapbooks. Some of the photos are mounted, others are arranged in alphabetical order in folders, or housed in envelops and books. To distinguish the materials within the subcollections, the Historic Call Numbers (5:1, 5:3, 5:5, 5:6, 6:1, 7:2) are added in parenthesis next to the range dates.

Subcollection 1 (5:1; 1899-1938): oversized collection housed in 5 boxes. The materials were originally wrapped in 9 packages and remain the materials’ housing reference. Included among these materials is a folder with Cope’s collection specimen list. Package 1: field photos; Package 2: catalogue of original negatives, Dept. of Vert. Paleontology; Package 3: Barnum Brown’s Sinclair aerial surveys of 1934 and Alberta Canada, 1931-1938; Package 4: George Olsen photo album, 1906-1920, John E. Allen Dinosaur restoration; Package 5: George Olsen photo album, Egypt 1907, John E. Allen Dinosaur restoration; Package 6: missing; Package 7: John E. Allen Tyrannosaurus; Package 8: N. H. Darton photographs, 1899; Package 9: photos, maps, drawings, sketches.

Subcollection 2 (5:5; 1895-1927): field collection photographs taken at localities in Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming by principal collectors. Irving: Wyoming and Utah, 1895; Walter Granger: New Mexico, Wyoming, 1896-1916; Harry W. Menke: Wyoming, 1897-1898; Albert Thomson: Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, 1899-1921; Hans Zinnser: Texas, 1900; George Olsen: Wyoming, 1910; Charles L. Bernheimer: Arizona, Colorado, 1924; Carl Sorenson: Nebraska, 1925-1927; Marshall Lambert: Montana, n.d.

Subcollection 3 (5:6; n.d.): portrait collection of fossil vertebrate principal collectors originally gathered by W. D. Matthews and portraits of Department of Paleontology staff. Arranged alphabetically in folders. Folder 1: W. D. Matthews letter to H. F. Osborn (undated), 19 sketches of vertebrate paleontologists by John Bowen; Folder 2: Photos, Agassiz, L. – Beeth, W.; Folder 3: Broom, R. – Bump, J.; Folder 4: Case, E. C. – Cuvier, G.; Folder 5: Darwin, C. – Fulda, F. K.; Folder 6: Gaudry, A. – Gross, W. G.; Folder 7: Haas O. – Knight, C.; Folder 8: Long, C. – Lull, R.; Folder 9: McDowell, S. – Nocera, J.; Folder 10: Olsen, G. – Pravda, J.; Folder 11: Russian paleontologists (photo sent by J. A. Orlov); Folder 12: Ripley (Miss) – Stensio, E.; Folder 13: Sterling, C. M. – Traquair, R.; Folder 14: Vokes, H. – Woodward, A. S.

Subcollection 4 contains photo albums, scrapbooks, and a ledger for specimen negatives. Photo album (5:1; 1903-1904): W. D. Matthews Bridger Expedition Photos; Scrapbook (5:3; 1913-1937): Walter Granger newspaper clips; Photo album (6:1; 1900s): 44 Barnum Brown Arizona pictures include photos of his first wife, American Indians, waterfall, early model car, campsite; Photo album (6:1; 1899-1911): presented to H. F. Osborn at an honorarium dinner reunion held at the Faculty Club, Columbia University on 2/18/1911, contains 85 pages of photos and letters; Scrapbook (7:2; n.d.): clippings of earliest years (condition restricted); Ledger (7:2: n.d.): recordings of specimen negatives titled “Catalog of Negatives Consecutive #s of Specimens.”


  • 1895-1941


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.

Biographical Note

Morris F. Skinner (1903-1989) was a paleontologist who worked for the Frick Laboratory (1927-1968) and the American Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Paleontology (Frick Assistant Curator, 1968-1973). He was born in Springview, Nebraska. He studied at the University of Nebraska, graduating in 1932 with a major in Geology and a minor in Chemistry and Zoology. He married Shirley M. White, later known as Marie Skinner, in 1930, and had two children. From 1928-1932, he was in charge of field parties collecting vertebrate fossils for Childs Frick or the Frick Corporation. From 1933-1968, he was a part of the Frick Corporation, responsible for the geological and locational data of fossil collections. He became Assistant Curator of the Frick Laboratory in 1956, Frick Assistant Curator of the American Museum of Natural History in the Division of Vertebrate Paleontology in 1968, and Associate Curator in 1969. His major researches were on horses, but there were curatorial activities on rhinoceroses, tapirs, peccaries, and horned ruminants. Morris and Shirley Marie Skinner worked together as a duo on expeditions and field studies and she was a Scientific Assistant at the museum. After Morris F. Skinner died in Ainsworth, Nebraska in 1989, his wife, Marie, donated his notebooks to the Vertebrate Paleontology collection.


7 Linear Feet (2 boxes, 5 oversize )


By subject.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Marie Skinner (Morris Skinner's spouse).


Historic Call Number: 5:1/5:2; 5:3; 7:2

American Museum of Natural History. Department of Vertebrate Paleontology photograph collection and scrapbooks, 1871-1941
Melissa Silvestri, Allyson Mellone, Alana Gishlick, 2021
2021 August
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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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