Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia papers on expeditions
Held at: Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia [Contact Us]1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA, 19103
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The oldest natural sciences institution in the Western Hemisphere, the Academy was founded when the United States hugged the Atlantic coastline, and Philadelphia was the cultural, commercial, and scientific center of the new nation. Classic expeditions to explore the western wilderness were organized at the Academy. These explorers brought back new species of plants and animals, which were studied and catalogued; they formed the foundation of the Academy's scientific collections which now contain over 17,000,000 specimens.
The first Academy trip took most of the members to the Perkiomen Copper Mines by horse and buggy, April 18, 1812. During the ensuing years Academy personnel has been a part of thousands of treks into new collecting areas. Often the expeditions were privately financed or sent out by the Academy under grants from research foundations. Sometimes Academy scientists accompanied U. S. government expeditions.
Expeditions took place across the globe, from the Arctic; to North, South and Central America; to Africa; to Asia, to Europe, and to Australia. Within the United States, expeditions were taken to Franklin and Haddonfield, New Jersey; Port Kennedy, Pennsylvania; Alaska; the southeastern and southwestern states (including Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada and Virginia); the Rocky Mountains; Utah; Idaho; and Oregon. These American expeditions took place from 1927 to 1940.
In 1969, an expedition, led by James C. Tyler, to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, surveyed and collected marine fish, discovered the site where Captain James Cook’s H.M.B. Endeavour ran aground, and recovered artifacts that remained. When the ship hit the reef on June 10, 1770, Cook’s crew tried to escape by making the ship lighter and threw the ship’s cannons and ballasts overboard. The cannons and some other artifacts were retrieved, and one of the cannons was presented to the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia by the Australian government and is on exhibit. This trip was sponsored by Virgil Kaufman and Alfred L. Wolf and the salvage party included Virgil Kauffman, Alfred L. Wolf, Kenneth Myers, and Griscom Bettle. Kauffman and Wolf, both avid divers and active Academy supporters, provided most of the expedition’s financial backing. Myers operated the magnetometer that revealed the presence of the cast iron cannons, while Bettle assisted in diving operations. The scientists who collected several barrels of fishes, which represented more than 200 species, included James C. Tyler from the Academy’s Ichthyology Department and C. Lavett Smith from the American Museum of Natural History.
Some of the scientists who participated in Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia exhibitions are Count Emmanuel Armand, W. W. Atterbury, Nicholas Biddle, James Bond, William K. Carpenter, M. A. Carriker, W. Judson Coxey, Frederick E. Crockett, Rudolphe Meyer De Schauensee, Ralph Deshon, Brooke Dolan, Henry S. Drinker III, Arthur H. Fisher, William J. Fox, Samuel G. Gordon, Prentiss N. Gray, Harold T. Green, Francis Harper, Dr. Isaac Israel Hayes, Morgan Hebard, Ernest Hemingway, Wharton Huber, C.W. Johnson, Harry J. Lance, Sidney J. Legendre, Joseph W. Lippincott, Major Stephen Harriman Long, Clement B. Newbold, Robert Peary, J. Fletcher Street, James C. Tyler, George Vanderbilt, Edward Woolman, and William Jenks Woolston.
This collection documents the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia's expeditions across the globe from 1891 to 1977. The collection is rich in material, particularly regarding the Academy's expedition to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia in 1969. There is some general information regarding expeditions, especially in regard to the Committee on Names, which is responsible for selecting offical names for special exhibitions. Also included is information regarding other expeditions in which Academy representatives participated.
This collection dates from 1891 to 1977 and is arranged in three series: Series I. "Great Barrier Reef expedition, 1967-1977;" Series II. "General information regarding expeditions, 1924-1958;" and Series III. "Expeditions, 1891-1961."
Materials in the first series, "Great Barrier Reef expedition, 1967-1977," focus mainly on the salvage of the cannons from Captain James Cook's ship Endeavor, however, there is also information from the Fish Department regarding specimens acquired for the Academy. In regards to the Endeavor, there is a daily log, correspondence, a scientific journal belonging to J. C. Tyler, historical information regarding Cook and the Endeavor, photographs, sketches, publicity and loan information.
The second series, "General information regarding expeditions, 1924-1958," contains information on and material from the Committee on Names and several lists of expeditions, including a typed list of all the named expeditions with locale and date. There are also some clippings and a ledger from the Vertebrate Department.
The final series, "Expeditions, 1891-1961" contains information on 78 expeditions undertaken by the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia. These expeditions were, at some point, numbered by Academy staff and this order has been maintained. The order appears to be largely alphabetical, however, it is not consistent. In some cases, the material is organized by the name of the explorer, and in other cases, by the expedition's location. Researchers are encouraged to perform a key word search in order to verify that they have located all files relevant to their research.
The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
- Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Garrett Boos
- Finding Aid Date
- The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project. Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Archives with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.