Exciting updates for the Archives

Last Fall, we wrapped up our IMLS Museums for America grant called “Strategic Stewardship for Sustaining the Archives of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology”. It allowed us to address long-term needs of the archives including critical housing and preservation issues for our most fragile materials. This included converting a collection room from general purpose storage to a dedicated Archives Collection room.

Before, it was used for storing pretty much anything: reprints, old administrative files, excess paper, party and event supplies, vacuum cleaners, even dead computers! The shelves were bolted and fixed creating cramped aisles.

We removed everything, found more appropriate storage for all the materials (don’t worry, we didn’t throw out all the CalDay supplies!) and started work.

This meant that the museum staff had to endure almost of year of boxes and storage carts in almost every conceivable place in the museum while the room was upgraded with high density shelving on rails.

We chose handsome blue endplates for our new units to break up the white of the walls, shelves and concrete floors. Continue reading

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History wrapped in history

While rehousing the Benjamin Hoag papers, I came across some field notes wrapped in a piece of paper. The Hoag papers date from 1878-1916. The wrapping paper looks to have notes written by Milton Ray, an ornithologist and oologist whose papers also reside at the MVZ. I assume that the Hoag egg collection was bought by Ray and then later donated to the MVZ.

What’s interesting is that on the back of Ray’s notes is a schedule of sessions dated September 11-12, 1942.  Continue reading

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Cool Camp Site

Written by URAP Sierra Abasolo, a third-year history major participating in the IMLS, “Strategic Stewardship for Sustaining the Archives of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology” project. Spring semester 2018.

This photo (MVZ 11158) was captured by Otto Emerson near the base of Mount Diablo in Pine Canyon. The photo shows the camp of Walter E. Bryant and Otto W Emerson in March of 1887. Emerson was known for collecting environmental samples as a sort of hobby of his, so these men may have been out to expand their research.

This photo stood out to me as I was sorting through hundreds of photos because of the extravagant looking tent in the background that caught my attention. Continue reading

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MVZ and Stanford

I just finished listening to the podcast, “Who Killed Jane Stanford,” which was produced last year by a history course at Stanford University. It is a fascinating investigation of the events surrounding the death of Jane Stanford, early Stanford culture, and the power struggles between Jane Stanford and David Starr Jordan. David Starr Jordan, Stanford’s first president, plays a leading role. Knowing that Jordan was influential to Joseph Grinnell’s formal education, it got me thinking about the connections between the MVZ, Stanford University, and David Starr Jordan. And for fans of the podcasts – Joseph Grinnell was earning his Master’s degree at Stanford during the time of the Gilbert affair. Coincidentally, Grinnell was a Ph.D. student of Charles Gilbert several years later. The connections are boundless! Continue reading

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Raccoons in California

Written by URAP Lorena Zeferino, a third year MCB Neurobiology student participating in the IMLS, “Strategic Stewardship for Sustaining the Archives of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology” project.

Photo taken by L.V. Compton, Point Lobos, Monterey County, California, 1934, MVZ 7238

Ever since I was a young child, I always had a love for animals and while looking through the MVZ archive, I was delighted by L.V Compton’s photographs of California’s adorable little thief; the raccoon. Raccoons are a species that is found commonly throughout Northern California and usually can live in farmlands, urban cities and suburban towns. I am from southern California where the raccoon population is particularly abundant since raccoons are attracted to urban cities such as Los Angeles and suburban areas such as Orange County. L.V Compton’s photographs are extraordinary visual captures of raccoons, since these creatures are nocturnal, they use their distinct black masks as a way to reduce glare that helps them visualize better in the dark therefore photographs of raccoons in daylight is a rare chance. Raccoons are also fiercely independent and are known to depart from their mother just after one year of age and due to their highly adaptive nature, it is very common to find a single raccoon burrowing through the trashcans of someone’s home looking for any meal to fulfill their omnivore diet. Continue reading

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