Over the past several months the WCS Archives has processed six collections, five of which are wholly or partially open for research. The finding aids for these collections have joined the descriptions of previously processed archival collections available through the WCS Library’s public website, www.wcs.org/library. (The direct link to the Archives’ finding aids is: http://ielc.libguides.com/wcs/archives_fas.) Included below are the abstracts for and links to the collections’ finding aids, plus an image or document from each.
Three of the newly available collections build upon the various New York Aquarium [NYA] collections processed in 2012 and 2013. Previously, we had processed collections of records pertaining to the Aquarium and its Osborn Laboratories of Marine Sciences as a whole, as well as to three of NYA’s Directors: Ross F. Nigrelli, George D. Ruggieri, and Louis E. Garibaldi. The three new NYA collections—which pertain to Directors Charles M. Breder and Christopher W. Coates, to NYA Fish Geneticist Myron Gordon, and to a group NYA senior staff—very nearly complete the Archives’ records of the Aquarium in the 20th Century.
(Two of the main exceptions remaining are the portion of James A. Oliver’s records that deal with his status as the NYA’s Director rather than his earlier positions as the Bronx Zoo’s Director and Herpetology Curator and a box of clippings of the ‘Home Aquaria’ column that Coates wrote for the New York Sun. Additionally, the finding aid for the material that documents the work of Charles Haskins Townsend—the NYA’s first Director after its takeover by the New York Zoological Society [NYZS] in 1902—is offline while we update the collection.)
“The collection holds records from Charles M. Breder and Christopher W. Coates, who were, respectively, the last Director of the New York Aquarium in its original building in Battery Park on Manhattan (where it was located from 1896 to 1941) and the first Director of the New York Aquarium in its current facility on Coney Island in Brooklyn (where it has been located from 1957 through the present). Breder’s records pertain primarily to the work of Myron Gordon at the Aquarium’s Fish Genetics Laboratory. Coates’s materials are more varied, and include files pertaining to Aquarium administrative matters and to its assistance with exhibits at the Bronx Zoo during the period when the Aquarium was without a location of its own (1941-1957).”
Memo from Christopher W. Coates to Ross F. Nigrelli regarding the operation of the Bronx Zoo’s Platypusary, circa 1948. Charles M. Breder and Christopher W. Coates New York Aquarium records, 1939-1956. Collection 3009. Wildlife Conservation Society Archives, New York. [pdf]
“The collection holds records from Myron Gordon, Geneticist at the New York Aquarium’s Fish Genetics Laboratory. Gordon, who also held a staff appointment at the American Museum of Natural History, was known for his research on the genetic aspects of and mechanisms for speciation, sex determination, and tumor development in platyfish and swordtails, the fishes that comprise the Xiphophorus genus. The collection includes correspondence, subject files, and records pertaining to Gordon’s professional travel, grant research, graduate students, and genetics laboratory. The material documents Gordon’s research and publication efforts, his interest in the countries where he collected Xiphophorus stock, and his close relationships with both his students and with many of the leading ichthyologists of his time, as well as his time spent organizing conferences, his teaching career, and his duties at the New York Aquarium.”
“The collection holds correspondence, administrative and operational records, subject files, and other materials from directors, curators, and other senior staff at the New York Aquarium. After a long closure, the New York Zoological Society [NYZS] reopened the New York Aquarium [NYA] in its new location on Coney Island in 1957, with Director Christopher W. Coates at the helm. Coates’s 1964 retirement, however, heralded the start of over a decade of high-turnover for the Aquarium’s directors and curators. This ever-changing leadership nevertheless shepherded the Aquarium through a transitional period characterized by New York City’s changing demographics and increasing financial difficulties; from 1964 to 1979 the Aquarium added and expanded exhibits for sharks and marine mammals, and continued its education, research, and collection efforts. The materials in the collection come from the files of NYA Directors Christopher W. Coates, Paul L. Montreuil, Ross F. Nigrelli, James A. Oliver, and George D. Ruggieri, as well as from several other Aquarium senior staff members, including Jewell Bungay, William S. Flynn, H. Doug Kemper, Pedro Ponciano, and Stephen Spotte. The records document the day-to-day operations of the Aquarium, in particular its animal exhibits and its finances, as well as its collecting expeditions and the construction and renovation of exhibits.”
The remainder of the WCS Archives’ new collections may already be somewhat familiar to regular readers of WildThings: they were processed by the Archives’ interns Alexanne Brown, Kristin Moore, and Andrew Wong-Crocitto, who highlighted their work in posts on NYZS’s International Conservation bluebooks, the papers of Department of Tropical Research Associate Gloria Hollister Anable, and the records of Veterinarian Charles Gandal.
Gandal’s records are closed, but as Andrew noted the collection consists mostly of the Veterinarian’s correspondence with his colleagues at the Bronx Zoo, other veterinarians, and the general public; this last category includes both pet owners asking for advice on how to care for and/or acquire exotic animal companions and young people asking about zoo veterinarianship as a profession.
Correspondence between Charles Gandal and Brett Sharenou, age 10, January 1969. Charles P. Gandal records, circa 1954-1969 (bulk 1966-1969). Collection 2029. Wildlife Conservation Society Archives, New York. [pdf]
“Gloria Hollister Anable, nee Gloria Hollister, was a naturalist and ichthyologist who, from 1928-1941, was employed as a Research Associate under Dr. William Beebe in the New York Zoological Society’s Department of Tropical Research. As a Research Assistant, Hollister recorded the observations of Beebe and his collaborator Otis Barton during their record-setting dives in the Bathysphere; she also prepared specimens found through dredging. Hollister’s collection includes black and white photographs and negatives; glass lantern slides; correspondence; journals; lecture, research, and motion picture notes; and specimen lists relating to her expeditions, particularly the 1926 and 1936 expeditions to Arima Gorge in Trinidad and Kaieteur Falls and Plateau in British Guiana (now Guyana). In addition, this collection includes material on an unrealized expedition to Iceland, articles relating to Beebe and Hollister’s work with the Bathysphere, correspondence, biographical material about Hollister, and newspaper clippings concerning her professional affiliations, conservation work, and personal interests.”
“The collection holds of the records of the international programs of the New York Zoological Society (NYZS), with records relating to NYZS sponsorship of field research and wildlife conservation projects carried out from the 1970s to the early 1990s. NYZS grants funded ecological studies of animals and regions, as well as projects promoting wildlife conservation awareness, conservation legislation, and the creation of protected areas. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence between NYZS officials and project grantees, administrative records relating to grant approval and funding processes, and the resulting field reports and publications.”
Figure 4 (showing typical features of highland and lowland spectacled bear habitat) from Bernard Peyton letter to Archie Carr and Mary Pearl, October 1st, 1985. New York Zoological Society. International Conservation bluebooks, 1962-1993. Collection 4041. Wildlife Conservation Society Archives, New York. [pdf]
Of course, processing work continues! The Fall 2014 Archives Processing Intern, Helen Schubert Fields, is currently working on a collection of records from the Center for Field Biology and Conservation, a 1970s predecessor to today’s Global Conservation division. We’re also working on the records of the Ornithology Department from the second half of the 20th Century, and have a few other large processing projects on our plates for 2015. We’ll keep you updated on our progress!