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Edward Drinker Cope papers

Identifier: VPA 44

Scope and Contents

Box 1 consists of correspondence, collection lists, scrapbooks, photocopies of Cope Diaries, and a biographical memoir of Cope for the National Academy of Science. Box 2 consists of illustrations from H. F. Osborn's "Cope, Master Naturalist," photographs, a bibliography of his writings, list of fossils and specimens, and general catalogues. Box 3 contains catalogues, collection lists, specimen lists, and correspondence. Box 4 contains collection lists and typescript copies of correspondence to various family members.


  • 1847-1897


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 / Historical

Edward Drinker Cope (1840-1897) was an early and well-known paleontologist at the University of Pennsylvania and the American Museum of Natural History, who discovered an average of one thousand species of extinct vertebrates in the United States, and is credited along with his rival Othniel Charles Marsh with discovering the first complete remains of large dinosaurs. They were both the foremost paleontologists of their day, sending back many rare early fossils to institutions in New Haven and Philadelphia, and set the groundwork for modern methods and techniques in vertebrate paleontology. Cope was born in Philadelphia in 1840, the son of a Quaker philanthropist. As a child, he was already making detailed notes about the ichthyosaur on display at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. He traveled to Europe in the 1860s, and later became a professor at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. He was more of an independent worker and traveler, and spent much of his life traveling the world as a paleontologist, becoming a world authority on the study of fishes, amphibians and reptiles, and of fossil vertebrates. In 1889, an early dinosaur from New Mexico was named Coelophysis by Cope, describing the animal from various parts that had been collected by his field man David Baldwin. In 1894, Cope sold his fossil collection to AMNH, and the institution currently houses his diaries, notebooks, and pencil drawings of dinosaurs. Towards the end of his life, he served as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and died in 1897.


2 Linear Feet (4 boxes)


Arranged by subject.

Related Materials

VPA 17


Historic Call Number: 4:8 now 8:3

Edward Drinker Cope papers, 1847-1897
Melissa Silvestri, Allyson Mellone, Alana Gishlick, 2021
2021 August
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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.

Repository Details

Part of the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology Archives Repository

200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024-5192