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Malcolm Rutherford Thorpe papers

Call Number: MS 491

Scope and Contents

The Malcolm R. Thorpe Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, notes, photographs, and miscellanea of Malcolm Rutherford Thorpe, a paleontologist and member of the Yale University staff from 1919-1938. The Thorpe Papers were a gift of Malcolm R. Thorpe in 1943, with subsequent additions. The papers are arranged in two series:

I. Correspondence, 1913-1952 II. Topical Files, 1923-1945

SERIES I, CORRESPONDENCE, 1913-1952, includes personal and professional correspondence with such correspondents as the U.S. Department of the Interior, Edmund Hovey Otis, and Ernest Howe.

SERIES II, TOPICAL FILES, 1923-1945, contains such material as a cataloge of Thorpe's personal library, descriptions of many specimens, his Ph.D. dissertation, and several manuscripts on topics of professional interest. Other materials include notes arranged under the topic "Memoirs of the Peabody Museum," chapters from Organic Adaption to Environment (1924), papers relating to the Emerson Tuttle Memorial Committee, and files for Yale University matters.


  • 1913-1952


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Portion of papers gift of Malcolm Thrope in 1943.


Arranged in two series: I. Correspondence. II. Topical Files.


5.5 Linear Feet (9 boxes, 1 folio)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, reports, manuscripts and research material relating to Thorpe's geological surveys in Utah, to his work on vertebrate paleontology, to his directorship of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University, and to his work for the H. Emerson Tuttle Memorial Fund.

Biographical / Historical


Thorpe recieved his BA from Yale in 1913 and then took a Ph.D. in geology at Yale in 1916 and held a Yale College Fellowship during 1914-1915. In 1917 he surveyed positions for gun emplacements along the New England coast, under the U.S. Geologic Survey and the National Council of Defense, and the following year taught military geology to S.A.T.C. and R.O.T.C. students at Yale and military camps. He was a member of the University staff from 1919 until 1938, serving in the following capacities: preparator in vertebrate paleontology, 1919; assistant, 1919-1922; assistant curator, 1922-1927 (also fellow, 1922-1923); research associate, 1923-1938; curator 1927-1938; also curator of osteology, 1923-1938 (and taught osteological morphology, 1929-1938); acting director, Peabody Museum, 1927.

He served as a Commencement marshal from 1923 to 1928 and as chief Commencement marshal for the next ten years, was chief marshal for President Seymour's inauguration in 1937. He was chairman of the Emerson Tuttle Portrait Committee in 1945 and later (1946-1948) of the Emerson Tuttle Memorial Committee. He was an associate fellow of Davenport Colleg from 1933 onwards.

Thorpe carried out geological field work in various places, including South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, eastern and western Canada, and in England, Scotland, and France. He edited Organic Adaptation to Environment, published by the Yale University Press in 1924, and is the author of "The Osteology of Eporcodon Socialis Marsh" and "The Marycoidodantidae, An Extinct Group of Ruminant Mammals," both of which appeared in publications of Peabody Museum. He also contributed the sections on the Abajo Mountains to The San Juan Country, by Herbert E. Gregory. The U.S. Department of the Interior published a paper of his in 1939, and he has had some fifty other scientific articles published, as well as many reviews of scientific publications.

He belonged to the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Academy of National Sciences (Philadelphia), the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, the Society of Mammalogists, the Geologic Society of America, the American Geographic Society, the Geochemical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as to Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi. He also belonged to the Graduates Club in New Haven.

Guide to the Malcolm Rutherford Thorpe Papers
Under Revision
compiled by William E. Brown, Jr.
June 1985
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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