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Field and Expedition Equipment

Identifier: Mem 305

Scope and Contents

Since 1887, the American Museum of Natural History has been conducting field expeditions in every continent. This is one of the main resources for the Museum’s scientific research and collection development activities throughout all its disciplines. This grouping holds the equipment that were used during expeditions from around 1877 to 1996. Most of these expeditions required direct interaction with the natural habitat of the subject of study, which usually involves being out in the wilderness for long periods of time. From clothing and cooking utensils to cameras and measuring instruments, these materials provide insight on how scientists prepare themselves to face day to day life and work in the field.

These objects have been loosely grouped and described based on the department that made use of them. Their description may be further refined as more is learned about them.


  • Usage: circa 1877-1990s



55 Items

Language of Materials



These materials were arranged in nine series: Series I: Department of Exhibition, Series II: Department of Vertebrate Paleontology, Series III: Department of Mammalogy, Series IV: Department of Anthropology, Series V: Department of Astronomy, Series VI: Department of Ornithology, Series VII: Department of Living Invertebrates, Series VIII: Arctic Expeditions, and Series IX: Flags.

Custodial History

Most of the objects were owned and used by several departments of the American Museum of Natural History. In the case of the items that belonged to the Department of exhibition were part of the large collection of tents, boots, socks, and underwear belonging to exhibition staff members when they went into the field. The bulk of the materials were housed in the 2nd floor memorabilia storeroom. The large American flag from the Madagascar expedition came from the Department of Mammalogy in 1987. Junius Bird’s measuring instruments were transferred from the Department of Anthropology in November 1997. Two Marsh pickaxe head models were sent by Bob Evander from the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology in 2015. Finally, a large canteen and a field bag used to be exhibited in an excavation display in the Brontosaur Hall during the 1950s. (The Hall of Early Dinosaurs).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These materials were transferred from several s departments of the American Museum of Natural History: Department of Anthropology, Department of Astronomy, Department of Exhibition, Department of Living Invertebrates Department of Mammalogy, Department of Ornithology, Department of Vertebrate Paleontology.


The dates were determined through the authority records of the people and expeditions mentioned.

Field and Expedition Equipment, circa 1877-1990s
Camila Aguirre
March 30, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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