MVZ Special Collections

The MVZ contains two special collections: Archival Collections of photographs, field notebooks, and correspondence, and the Hildebrand Collection.

Yosemite Falls photo Archival Collections

The first MVZ Director, Joseph Grinnell, believed that organisms should be studied in relation to their environment and he emphasized the accumulation of supplemental materials that would enhance the baseline of information traditionally associated with specimens captured in the field. Accordingly, ca. 700 volumes of bound field notebooks that encompass the work of more than 250 investigators are housed in the Museum. The books contain data about specimens, their habits and habitats that is not recorded elsewhere, and they are a primary source of information for curating the collections.

The Museum also houses all correspondence from the date of its founding to the present, with the exception of letters between Annie M. Alexander and Joseph Grinnell regarding the establishment of the Museum (now housed in the Bancroft Library on the Berkeley campus). Letters written from the field often provide natural history observations, while those relating to Museum business offer a unique perspective into development of wildlife policies and practices and professional organizations in the early decades of the 20th century.

The MVZ image collection is a compilation of 2x2 color slides, black & white and color prints, film and glass negatives, and lantern slides. Like the MVZ field notes and correspondence, these images document species presence and changing environmental conditions, primarily in California and the western United States, over the past 100 years.

The MVZ is in the process of digitizing these materials and making them available for viewing over the web. We have begun with photographs and field notes taken by Grinnell and his staff in Yosemite National Park, beginning in 1914 and culminating in 1924 with the publication by Grinnell and Storer of Animal Life in the Yosemite.

Click here to query the MVZ Image database

Hildebrand Collection

This collection of unusual specimen preparations contains representatives from all vertebrate classes. It was created by Milton Hildebrand, Professor Emeritus, University of California at Davis, and former MVZ graduate student. Hildebrand developed or perfected most of the anatomical techniques used in specimen preparation and many items in the collection are cross-referenced to functional laboratory exercises that he designed. The unique and often delicate nature of these anatomical preparations makes them especially valuable for teaching, but also prohibits their availability for loans.

A separate component of the Hildebrand collection is series of short, 16-mm films that illustrate locomotor modes for many mammalian taxa. Only limited footage is devoted to other terrestrial vertebrates. These films were made in conjunction with Hildebrand's research on vertebrate locomotion and gait analysis. Eventual conversion of these films to video format will render them available to other researchers for additional study.

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