In 2010 when the library’s first CLIR grant was underway we strategized with the project timeline, plotting a course through the departments. As often happens with projects involving inventory efforts, it became the starting point for a multitude of spin off projects. One of the largest and most inspiring projects has been our current CLIR hidden collections projects grant, of which we are well into our second year. Another happy occurrence has been the ongoing ‘department discoveries’ and transfers that continue to occur.

“Plants, botanical illustration, Kidong Valley,” AMNH Digital Special Collections, accessed June 16, 2014,

Before Alfred Kinsey studied human sexuality he studied gall wasps. During his years of entomological study, 1917 to approximately 1940, Kinsey amassed a significant collection of gall wasp specimens much of which eventually became part of the AMNH collections. Since 1995 the AMNH archive has had in its holdings a modest and seemingly incomplete collection for Kinsey which supports the museum’s late 1958 acquisition of his gall wasp collection.  The Alfred Kinsey entomological papers, 1917-1941 are described as only having correspondence for people with last names that begin with B; Balduf, Banks, Beutenmuller, Borgmeier. It had always been a bit of a mystery to the current library staff. It’s clear that the collection had been separated before 1995, but where the other portion of the collection lived was unknown.

Recently a researcher looking for images of Alfred Kinsey led museum archivist Barbara Mathé to Christine LeBeau, a scientific assistant in the department of Entomology, home to Kinsey’s 7.5 million-specimen gall wasp collection. A small collection of images were found to have come in with the specimen collection. Housed near the gall wasp specimens Barbara discovered lantern slides and what may be the rest of the Kinsey correspondence collection along with his library and reprint collection on gall wasps. The department decided to transfer the collections to the library to make more space for their researchers; agreeing that the library would offer wider access for researchers and more detailed description to the little known archive collection.

When we went to the department to pick up the transfer I noticed that another small correspondence collection was housed near the Kinsey papers. A box labelled O.A. Stevens Correspondence seemed overlooked and in need of some rehousing; I requested that it come too. This led to conversations with the museum’s expert in Bee studies, Dr. Jerome Rozen and his collection assistant Eli Wyman. The Stevens’ correspondence collection supported a specimen gift from the 1930’s. Once again, because the main museum archives offered description and access in the form of online finding aids, it was decided that it would be a good home for the collection enabling both internal and external researchers to access information.

In offering care and access to the museum’s archival collections in the science departments, others have been inspired to take the opportunity to transfer archival collections to us. The important Kirby-Cleveland supporting archive collection has recently been transferred as well as a collection from well known bee worker, Herbert Ferlando Schwartz.

Comments are closed.