Author Archives: Madeleine Thompson

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!

WCS Awarded NEH Preservation Assistance Grant

neh_50_logo_2colorWe are very pleased to report that we have received a Preservation Assistant Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities! This grant will support a general preservation assessment of the WCS Archives film collection, which contains approximately 2,200 film prints created by WCS zoo, aquarium, and field conservation staff over the twentieth century. A preservation consultant will conduct a formal assessment of the film collection and its storage environment in order to inform the Archives’ goals of creating a sustainable preservation plan for the collection and making it accessible.The assessment will support the Archives’ future ability to budget and plan for the collection’s rehousing and stabilization and determine options for the collection’s future accessibility.

We look forward to keeping you updated as the assessment gets underway this year!

For more on the NEH’s recent awards announcement, see here.

The Gift of an Angry Badger

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 6.56.25 PMTheodore Roosevelt, who was born 157 years ago today, provided WCS with the gifts of great moral and political support in the organization’s early years.  It was Roosevelt who appointed the committee of Boone and Crockett Club members who eventually founded the New York Zoological Society.  Roosevelt also endorsed the formation of the American Bison Society and served as its first honorary president.  And he spoke out in support of Bronx Zoo Director William T. Hornaday’s (in the end unsuccessful) 1915 campaign to increase wildlife sanctuaries in national forests.  Continue reading