Skip to main content

Othniel Charles Marsh Archives

Call Number: VPAR.000240

Description of the Material

This is a small selection of archives, mainly photographs. The main Marsh archives are located at Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.


  • 1866-1899


Language of Materials

In English.


100 Linear Feet

Persistent URL


The archives of Othniel Charles Marsh, notably including photographs of himself, family, homes, and expeditions.

Biographical Sketch

In 1866, Marsh was appointed Professor of Paleontology at Yale, the first such position in North America. In 1867, he became curator of the Geological Cabinet at the new Peabody Museum, which was endowed by his uncle, the philanthropist George Peabody. Marsh brought with him 2.5 tons of books and specimens, the bulk of which were accumulated as a Yale College undergraduate and during a lengthy stay in Europe. This collection was the foundation of the vertebrate paleontology collection.

During a lifetime at Yale, Marsh amassed an impressive collection of vertebrate fossils. Although he and the Peabody Museum would ultimately become famous for their collection of dinosaurs from the American West ? which included type specimens of many of the best known dinosaurs - Marsh's earliest collections were from the Cretaceous of New Jersey. Under his leadership, the Yale College Scientific Expeditions of 1870?1873 obtained historically and scientifically important collections of fossil mammals, including some of the largest collections of uintatheres, titanotheres, fossil horses, and early primates in the United States. The expeditions also made important contributions to our knowledge of marine life from the Cretaceous, including mosasaurs, pterosaurs (most notably Pteranodon), and the toothed birds Ichthyornis and Hesperornis. In addition, they assembled a sizable collection of fossil fishes from Eocene lake deposits in Wyoming.

After 1874, Marsh relied almost exclusively on ?professional? collectors, which included both local residents and collectors sent to the American West by Marsh. Marsh's associates form a ?Who's Who? of the history of vertebrate paleontology and geology: Erwin H. Barbour, David Baldwin, George Baur, Charles Emerson Beecher, Hugh Gibb, George Bird Grinnell, Oscar Harger, John Bell Hatcher, Arthur Lakes, Otto Meyer, Benjamin Mudge, O.A. Peterson, William Reed, George R. Wieland, and Samuel Wendell Williston.

According to his biographers, Schuchert and LeVene (1940), Marsh named 344 new species and 161 new genera of fossil vertebrates. His genera include Brontosaurus, Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops and Eohippus. His work and collections were praised by Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley as some of the most crucial evidence supporting the theory of evolution.

Othniel Charles Marsh Archives
Edited Full Draft
Annette Van Aken
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 Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History Repository

170 Whitney Avenue
New Haven CT 06511
(203) 737-4695
(203) 432-9816 (Fax)