Author Archives: Madeleine Thompson

Happy Administrative Professionals Day

William Bridges and Lucy Ouzoonion, circa 1950s.

Today in the WCS Archives we pay tribute to WCS’s Administrative Professionals, past and present.  In fact, without our Administrative Professionals, we would not have an archives.  For in their everyday roles, it is these staff members who have recorded, organized, saved, managed—and sometimes even decoded—the records that are WCS’s archives today.

Coded telegram written to William Hornaday and decoded by his secretary, Edith Franz. WCS Archives Collection 1001.

We were so pleased to be gifted the photo above recently of one of these Administrative Professionals, Lucy Ouzoonion, who spent her career as secretary to William Bridges, WCS’s Curator of Publications from 1935 to 1967.  Even though we are indebted to these women—and in WCS’s past, they were always women—for our archives today, they tend to turn up in our records in indirect ways.  Most often, they appear as typists’ initials at the bottom of letters.  

So to Lucy Ouzoonion, ef (Edith Franz), res (Rosalie E. Sevcik) gb (Gail Bonsignore), li (Louise Ingenito), gm (Gerry Marsetller), and ms (Myra Schomberg), we thank you and WCS’s dozens of other Administrative Professionals. You have ensured that WCS’s Archives exist today.

70th Anniversary of the Conservation Foundation [Instagram]

70 years ago today, the Conservation Foundation was established to support the New York Zoological Society’s ever-expanding conservation program.

CF funded courses in conservation study, educational films and radio programs, publications, and workshops. It also funded scientific research on natural resources, including the work cited by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962).

Although CF was closely affiliated with NYZS, and they jointly sponsored many wildlife conservation projects in the 1950s and 1960s, it was an independent organization from the start. In later years, the Foundation’s work turned more toward human environmental problems associated with development and away from wildlife conservation. In 1965, under the presidency of Russell Train, it moved its offices to Washington, DC and later became an affiliate of the World Wildlife Fund.

Shown is the Conservation Foundation’s logo and statement of purpose from an annual report held in WCS Archives Collection 1029. Processing for this collection was made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) Access to Historical Records grant program.

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First Phase of Our Photo Preservation Project is Complete

Picture1 As we’ve been reporting, the WCS Archives has spent the first half of the year working on a project to preserve our photographic negative collection.  Funded by the New York State Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials, the project serves as the first phase in what we intend to be a larger initiative to preserve the entire collection.  During this first phase, we identified and rehoused the collection’s first 10,267 photographic negatives.  This included 2,111 dry plate glass negatives and 8,156 acetate film negatives; of these, all of the glass negatives and 60% of the acetate negatives were 5×7”, and 40% of the acetate negatives were 4×5” or smaller.  Continue reading

Celebrating the NPS Centennial in the Jackson Hole Wildlife Park

Wildlife Conservation Society_24782_Jackson Hole Wildlife Park Drawing by Lloyd Sanford_01 02 53This year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and to celebrate this major event, we’re remembering the creation of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Park.  In 1948, New York Zoological Society trustee and future NYZS president Laurance S. Rockefeller worked with NYZS and the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to establish the park, and in 1962, the park was donated to the National Park Service for inclusion in Grand Teton National Park.

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Preserving Herpetological History… and Beyond

Wildlife Conservation Society_009962_Ball Python Snake_BZ_09 09 25In January 2016, the WCS Archives began a project to preserve WCS’s historical photographic negatives. Since then, another intern and I have been going through these negatives one by one, inspecting them and creating an inventory, noting any information we can glean about their title, date, and physical condition. To ensure their long-term preservation, these negatives are being rehoused and placed into new acid-free envelopes and boxes. The approximately 50,000 negatives in this collection include both acetate film and glass plate negatives, and the oldest images date back to 1899. During this first phase of the project, I have been working with around the first 10,000 negatives in the collection, which represent the earliest of WCS’s photos, ranging from 1899 to the early 1940s.  This project was funded by the New York State Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials.

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How the American Bison Became Our National Mammal

Bison at the Bronx Zoo being crated for transport to the Wichita Forest  and Game Preserve (now known as the Wichita Mountains Wildlife  Reserve), October 1907. William Hornaday appears on the left.  WCS Photo Collection

Bison at the Bronx Zoo being crated for transport to the Wichita Forest and Game Preserve (now known as the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Reserve), October 1907. William Hornaday appears on the left. WCS Photo Collection

This week, President Obama signed a law making the bison the US’s first national mammal.  To celebrate this momentous event, we’re looking back on the history of protection for the American bison with a blog post over on Medium.  Check it out here:

The African Plains: “A New Vista to the Wonders of Nature”

wcs-2016-pc-091“A new vista to the wonders of Nature.”  This is how New York Zoological Society President Fairfield Osborn described the brand new African Plains exhibit when it opened at the Bronx Zoo 75 years ago next week, on May 1, 1941.  The exhibit—with its bringing together of several African species, including lions, zebras, nyalas, and many birds, into an expansive savannah landscape—was indeed a new vista for the Zoo.  Whereas previous Bronx Zoo exhibits were conceived around animal orders or families—what Osborn referred to as “man-made classification”—and often indoors—think of the old Lion House, the Monkey House—the African Plains brought together animals based on geography, and it placed them in a naturalistic setting. Continue reading

Grace Davall

IMG_1464This Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating Grace Davall, who began her career in a secretarial role at the Bronx Zoo in 1923, at the age of 18, and rose through the ranks to become Assistant Curator of Mammals and Birds in 1952.  Upon her retirement in 1970 until her death in 1985, she was designated Curator Emeritus.  Continue reading

WCS Archives Awarded Grant to Protect Historical Photography

We are so pleased to announce that we have received a grant from the New York State Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials to rehouse photographic negatives dating back to the founding of the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium.

The $16,674 grant will enable us to rehouse glass plate and film negatives that would otherwise be susceptible to damage and deterioration. The images, dating from the Bronx Zoo’s founding in 1899 through approximately 1930, will be cleaned and properly rehoused for long-term preservation. Although the entire collection requires rehousing, this project focuses on the first 12,000 negatives in the collection of more than 70,000.

Three-toed sloth at the Bronx Zoo around 1907. WCS Photo Collection

Three-toed sloth at the Bronx Zoo around 1907. WCS Photo Collection

For more on the grant and additional images from the collection, please see the WCS Newsroom, and we look forward to sharing news about the project as it progresses!