One of the best things about working with a collection that has such a historic past is getting to know the people who have worked on it in the past. Many of our early collectors and curators have taken on personalities to me even though they've been dead for one hundred years. My main link to these pioneers of American geology and paleontology comes through their fossils.
Our first curator in Invertebrate Paleontology here at the Yale Peabody Museum was Charles Beecher. He had an extensive personal collection of fossils, but all were carefully labeled with a little dab of blue paint and a specimen number written in red. We have his original catalog, so whenever I come across one of his specimens i can flip through the pages (from the 1880s) and find exactly where he collected this fossil. Just in case you're wondering, this is a specimen of Megakozlowskiella perlamellosa (revised from Beecher's original designation of Spirifera perlamellosa) collected in Clarksville, New York from the lower Helderberg Group.
I'll have more from our early collectors and some early dealers in future posts.