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MVZ Archives

Please note that inquiries to the Archives are answered only on Tuesdays, which may delay our ability to respond to your requests. We apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for your understanding. Posted May 2018.

The MVZ houses an extensive archive of field notebooks, photographs, annotated maps, and personal papers that date to the Museum's founding in 1908 and are connected to specimens. These historical and present-day materials provide records of environmental conditions during the 20th and 21st century, and are used by scientists and historians to examine environmental and societal change.

Using MVZ Archival material

The Archives may be visited by appointment only between the hours of 9am and 3pm. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment.

Please refer to the Duplication Services page for information on how researchers can request reproductions or license MVZ archival material.

MVZ Archive Project

In January 2012, The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology was awarded a three-year grant from the Council for Library and Information Resources to catalog and make more accessible its hidden archives of fieldnotes, correspondence, annotated maps, images, and artwork. This exciting project provides access to evidence of the historical, ecological, legal, and sociological context for the vertebrate specimens that comprise the Museum's collections.

Read more about the CLIR grant here. In addition, Christina Fidler wrote an article on our project here in the newsletter Museum Archivist (vol 23(1) Summer 2013).

We have developed and follow these guidelines for our processing and digitization efforts:

  • MVZ Processing Plan Template (PDF)
  • MVZ Processing Manual (PDF)
  • BNHM Digital Preservation Plan (PDF)
  • Read the MVZ Archives blog to keep abreast of new developments and read stories from our collection.

    The Blog

    11/14/2018 03:33 PM
    We are migrating!

    Find us at! We will continue to share stories and news from the MVZ Archives at our new address. Our principal website at MVZ and Ecoreader for field notebook access remains the same, too.       Advertisements

    Collection Summaries

    MVZ's field note collection contains over 700 bound volumes that encompass the work of more than 250 investigators. These books contain information on specimens and species' observations that are not recorded elsewhere in the Museum's catalogs. In addition to text, the field note volumes are filled with photographs, drawings, and annotated maps that highlight early collecting localities and associated habitats.

    Thus far, ~45,000 pages of field notes (of an estimated 100,000 pages) have been scanned and are available online. Notes are searchable by author, year, and section title, but future developments and ongoing data capture will enable broader search capabilities. One such development is GReF, a web application that was developed to capture data from scanned notebook pages and to link those data to the MVZ specimen database.

    Condor on Herman T. Bohlman's knee. Portland, Oregon,
    Condor on Herman T. Bohlman's knee.
    Portland, Oregon, 1906.

    The photograph collection is a compilation of over 15,000 black-and-white and color prints, film and glass negatives, lantern slides, 2x2 color slides, and modern digital images. Like the field notes, these images document species' presence and changing environmental conditions over the past 100 years. Special photo archives include ca. 535 images of California Condors, Joseph Dixon photos from Alaska (1913-1918), Otto Emerson photos of animals and habitats (1887-1907), and ca. 1000 small prints and postcards of big game collected by C. Hart Merriam.

    The museum's collection of ~13,000 historic prints have been scanned for archiving and access. Each print contains two scanned versions: a lower resolution tiff (300 ppi) that shows the image mounted on a data card; and a higher resolution tiff (1200 ppi) of the image without the card. Photographs have been processed into three additional files for online viewing: lower resolution jpeg, thumbnail, and tiled jpeg.


    The annotated map collection consists of ~480 maps dating from 1889, largely of areas in California, Alaska, and other western states. These maps were used by early researchers while in the field, and thus are marked with original routes, collecting localities, and notes about sites and the specimens collected.

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