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Division of Mineralogy Archives

Call Number: MINAR.000001

Description of the Material

The archives of the Division of the Mineralogy include maps, field notebooks, correspondence and material associated with various staff and affiliates. Notably Jean-Baptiste-Francois Gigot d'Orcy, James Dwight Dana, Edward Salisbury Dana, Phil Orville, Horace Winchell and archives pertaining to George Jarvis Brush's mineralogical collection and library,


  • 1780-2018


Language of Materials

In English.


50 Linear Feet

Persistent URL


These are the miscellaneous archives associated with the Division of the Mineralogy.

Biographical Sketch

The collections of the Division of Mineralogy can be traced to the 1802 appointment of Benjamin Silliman to Yale University?s new professorship of chemistry and natural history. Silliman began to acquire material for Yale College at home and on his trip to England and Scotland in 1805 and 1806. The first significant addition was this material from Europe, the Perkins Cabinet, in 1807.

Between 1811 and 1812, Colonel George Gibbs of Newport shipped his mineral collection to Yale to be set up ?where it could be useful to science? (it was ultimately purchased in 1825). The Gibbs Cabinet consisted of 2 large separate collections and several smaller ones purchased by Gibbs, as well as specimens collected by him during his travels.

One of the 2 larger collections, with over 4,000 specimens, was that of M. Gigot D?Orcy of France (who lost his head during the French Revolution). Several hundred of these specimens have been identified (the handwritten catalog is in the Yale University Library).

The other large collection, that of Count Grigorii Kyrillovitch Razumovskii (d. 1837), contains minerals of the Russian empire, Germany and Switzerland. Another smaller collection was acquired by Gibbs from Jacques Louis, Comte de Bournon (d. 1825). Unfortunately, it has not been possible to identify positively which specimens came from these different subcollections of the Gibbs Cabinet.

In 1843, Yale purchased a collection of American minerals assembled by Baron Alois J.X. von Lederer, the Austrian Consul-General to the United States (d. 1842). This collection contained 3,000 specimens that Lederer collected himself or exchanged with the noted mineralogists and naturalists of the time. Many of these specimens have been identified by the labels used by Lederer.

With Silliman?s retirement in 1853, James D. Dana inherited the curatorship. The collection was developed through the investigations and publications of Dana and Edward S. Dana, which formed the basis of The System of Mineralogy (now in its 7th edition, it remains a principal reference in the field; many 19th century mineralogists sent material to the Danas for inclusion in the System).

In 1866, the collection was included in the newly established Peabody Museum, and George J. Brush, Professor of Metallurgy and Mineralogy in Yale?s Sheffield Scientific School, was subsequently appointed the first official curator of the Museum?s mineral collection. Throughout his career Brush acquired specimens through personal collecting, purchase and exchange, and he built his collection specifically for research and reference purposes. After Brush was named Sheffield?s first director in 1872, E.S. Dana became Curator. Meanwhile, Brush continued to develop his own collection. Samuel Penfield curated the Brush Collection after its donation to the Peabody in 1904; at his death in 1906 he was succeeded by William E. Ford.

Division of Mineralogy Archives
Edited Full Draft
Daniel Jonathan Drew
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

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