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Frederic Brewster Loomis (AC 1896) Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MA.00018

Scope and Contents

This collection of professional papers contains correspondence, lectures, scientific articles in print and typescript, teaching materials, and research notes related to the paleontological work of Dr. Loomis, both at Amherst College and in the field.

Series 1, "Professional Correspondence", contains correspondence concerning Loomis's scientific work. The majority of the letters are incoming mail from fellow paleontologists and geologists. Incoming correspondence is arranged alphabetically by the writer's last name; multiple letters from the same sender are in chronological order. Folders 7-9 all concern Loomis's 1926 book, The Evolution of the Horse. These folders and contents are arranged by date.

Series 2, "Scientific Expeditions",includes news clippings, financial records, and articles by Loomis about his scientific fieldwork. Loomis's fieldwork was regularly covered in both local and regional newspapers, and the articles in "News Clippings" often include the names and class years of student assistants. The folders are arranged alphabetically by title, and the "News Clippings" section is then sorted by date. Material within folders is also chronological.

Series 3, "Teaching", contains material related to Dr. Loomis's teaching here at Amherst College. The contents are arranged into four sub-series by document type. The first three relate directly to courses: "Course Texts" includes course outlines and laboratory handbooks; "Lectures" consists of detailed lecture notes on animal evolution; and "Student Work" includes fossil identification assignments and two published papers co-authored by students. The last sub-series, "Photographs", has two sections. The first folder contains both candid and formal images of Dr. Loomis from throughout his career at Amherst College, while the second folder of images show objects related to Dr. Loomis.

Series 4 contains materials from Dr. Loomis's scientific research, much of it based on fossils gathered during the expeditions documented in Series 2. This series is divided by publication type into 3 sub-series: A. Journal Articles, B. Books, and C. Research Materials. Within sub-series A and B, contents are separated by publication status and document type, with folders and individual items sorted by date, while sub-series C is arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Journal articles were Dr. Loomis's primary publication type, and sub-series A contains both drafts and article offprints from throughout his career. The articles cover a wide range of vertebrate paleontology, from fossil rodents to camel evolution. Dr. Loomis's publications from 1923-1926 focus on human habitation of North America during the Pleistocene. This research focus developed from the findings from the Florida expeditions. Several unpublished items (conference talks and an unpublished article on early humans) end the sub-series.

Sub-series B contains book publication announcements and 14 chapters of "Economic Zoology," an unpublished introductory text on the economic roles of animals (e.g., agriculture, pests, and disease). The manuscript date is inferred from Dr. Loomis's time as "Professor of Comparative Anatomy." His title changed when he transferred to the Geology Department in 1918. Note that Series 1, "Correspondence," contains material about "The Evolution of the Horse," another of Dr. Loomis's books.

The contents of sub-series C, "Research Materials," include fossil drawings, local oil prospecting, and specimen lists.

Dates

  • 1896 - 1938

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Frederic Brewster Loomis Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Frederic Brewster Loomis, known as "Mud Puppy" to friends, spent his life and career within the community of Amherst College — first as a student (class of 1896), then as a teacher and scientist. After graduating, he stayed on for a year as a research assistant in the Biology Department. He travelled to Germany for his Ph.D. (1897-1899, Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich), returning to Amherst to teach. He taught biology from 1900-1918, and then moved to the Geology Department in 1918. He was a vertebrate paleontologist, doing fieldwork across the continental United States, including both ceded and unceded Native American homelands.

He continued an Amherst tradition of taking students into the field, but took them much farther than just the Connecticut Valley. Loomis and his students regularly went west, traveling among the Badlands of South Dakota and Nebraska, the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming, and other areas of the Great Plains. Other destinations included Florida, Maine, and Navajo Nation. The longest trip Loomis took with Amherst students was a 7-month journey to the Patagonia region in Argentina, from June 1911 to January 1912.

Student fieldwork was also part of paleontology's traditions — Yale University's Professor O.C. Marsh had taken students out West during the 1870s with a U.S. Army escort. Early paleontologists and geologists worked hand in glove with the U.S. government's systematic displacement and attempted destruction of Plains and Western Native nations and peoples. As part of the second generation of paleontologists, Loomis's own work both depended on and continued this legacy. Throughout his career, he collected both fossils and Native artifacts for Amherst College collections from the homelands and reservations of Native nations. These finds had both intellectual and financial value. In reports, Loomis used the market value of his finds to encourage continued funding of his expeditions. On a larger scale, these discoveries often signified potential fossil fuel reserves (coal, gas, oil), so paleontologists' geological mapping and fossil digs paved the way for more invasive resource extraction.

In 1923, Charles P. Singleton, a Florida orange grower, requested assistance in identifying large bones found during a canal dig. Loomis identified two mammoth skeletons and associated human remains. This find supported the idea, then new and uncertain, that humans had lived in North America for more than ten thousand years. After a second, more thorough excavation in 1925 by Dr. Loomis and Dr. James W. Gidley (Smithsonian Institution), Singleton donated one of the mammoths to Amherst. The skeleton (mammuthus columbi) has been on display since 1926. In 2016, the mammoth was chosen as Amherst College's first official mascot.

Dr. Loomis was involved in both town and college life, serving as fraternity advisor to his own Phi Delta Theta, and on town and faculty committees. In addition, he was an officer for the American Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, as well as a member of the Geological Society of America and the American Society of Mammalogists. He wrote both scholarly and popular books, and published numerous scientific papers. While on vacation in Alaska with his wife Florence (Calhoun) and sons, Newell C. and Frederic Brewster Loomis, Jr. (AC 1937), Loomis died unexpectedly of an aneurysm on July 28, 1937.

Scientific Expeditions Led by Dr. Loomis

June-September 1903
Accompanied by James H. Biram (AC 1904) and Thomas C. Brown (AC 1904).
South Dakota: Phinney Breaks, near Folsom; head of Bear Creek. On Lakota homeland taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
Wyoming: Mule Creek and Lightning Creek, west of the Black Hills. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
Wyoming: Along the Greybull River in the Big Horn Basin. On Apsáalooke (Crow) homeland taken by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.
June-September 1904
Accompanied by Thomas C. Brown (AC 1904) and Walter W. Palmer (1905).
South Dakota: head of Bear Creek, north of Spring Draw. On Lakota homeland taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
Wyoming: Tatman Mountain; Owl Creek Mountains, near head of Fifteen Mile Creek; head of Elk Creek, 10 miles west of Otto. On Apsáalooke (Crow) homeland taken by the Treaty of May 7, 1868.
June-September 1907
Accompanied by John H. Hubbard (AC 1907), Cecil K. Blanchard (AC 1908), and William J. Parmelee (AC 1909).
Colorado: Pawnee Buttes, Weld County. On Arapaho and Cheyenne homelands taken by the Fort Wise Treaty of February 18, 1861.
Nebraska: Agate Spring Quarry, Sioux County. On Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Lakota homelands taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
Wyoming: Rawhide Creek, Goshen County; Muddy Creek, Niobrara County. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
June-September 1908
Accompanied by Cecil K. Blanchard (AC 1908); William J. Parmelee (AC 1909); Edward D. Leonard (AC 1909), and Raymond H. Wiltsie (AC 1910).
Colorado: Pawnee Buttes, Weld County. On Arapaho and Cheyenne homelands taken by the Fort Wise Treaty of February 18, 1861.
Nebraska: Agate Spring Quarry, Sioux County. On Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Lakota homelands taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
Wyoming: Rawhide Creek, Goshen County; Muddy Creek, Niobrara County. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
July-September 1909
Accompanied by Hubert B. Goodrich (AC 1909); Raymond H. Wiltsie (AC 1910); Donnell B. Young (AC 1911), as well as the Loomis family and Prof. John M. Tyler and his family.
Maine: Sawyer's Island, Flagg Island, Calf Island, Soward Island, Harpswell, and Winter Harbor. On Abenaki and Penobscot homelands taken by Great Britain in the Treaty of Paris, 1763.
July 1911-February 1912
Accompanied by Waldo Shumway (AC 1911), Phillip Layton Turner (AC 1912), and William Stein (as assistant).
Argentina: West of Puerto Visser, along the Chico River in Chubut Province. On Machupe homeland taken in the 1870s by the Argentinian government.
June-September 1919
Accompanied by John W. Harlow, museum preparator and technician.
Colorado: Pawnee Buttes, and Pawnee Creek, Weld County. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
Nebraska: Scott's Bluff near Gering, NE. On Arapaho and Cheyenne homelands taken by the Fort Wise Treaty of February 18, 1861.
June-September 1920
Accompanied by Edward O. Clark Jr. (AC 1920), Carlton F. Heard (AC 1921), Kenneth R. Mackenzie (AC 1921), and John W. Harlow.
Colorado: Pawnee Buttes, Weld County. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
Wyoming: Rawhide Creek and Goshen Hole Rim, Goshen County. On Arapaho and Cheyenne homelands taken by the Fort Wise Treaty of February 18, 1861.
Wyoming: Van Tassell and Spanish Diggings, Niobrara County. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
June-September 1922
Accompanied by Louis T. Abele (AC 1922) and John W. Harlow.
Nebraska: Owl Creek, Scott's Bluff County. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
Wyoming: Goshen Hole Rim, Goshen County. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
Wyoming: Indian Creek and Muddy Creek, Niobrara County. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
November-December 1923
Sabbatical travels. Accompanied by son Newell C. Loomis.
Found mammoth skeletons.
Florida: Melbourne and surrounding area. On Seminole and Miccosukee homelands taken by the Treaty of Moultrie Creek in 1823.
April 1924
Sabbatical travels. Accompanied by Florence Loomis and their sons, Newell C. and Frederic B. Loomis, Jr.
Utah: Monument Valley. In Navajo Nation.
July-August 1924
Sabbatical travels. Accompanied by John W. Harlow and the Loomis family.
New Mexico: Chaco Canyon. On land taken from Puebloan and Diné (Navajo) nations by the Fort Sumner Treaty of 1868.
June-August 1925
Accompanied by Perry A. Davison (AC 1925), Gerrard R. Megathlin (AC 1925), James W. Gidley (Smithsonian Institution), Newell C. Loomis, and John W. Harlow.
Florida: Melbourne and surrounding area. On land taken from the Seminole and Miccosukee nations by the Treaty of Moultrie Creek in 1823.
June-September 1927
Accompanied by Hugh M. Harlen (AC 1929), Frederick P. Young (AC 1928), and John W. Harlow.
Wyoming: Hat Creek, Niobrara County. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
June-September 1929
Accompanied by Boardman Bump (AC 1930), Warren M. Poland (AC 1930), and John W. Harlow.
Montana: Hell Creek. On Apsáalooke (Crow) and Assiniboine homelands taken by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.
Wyoming: Indian Creek, Niobrara County, and Pumpkin Buttes. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Congressional Act of February 28, 1877.
June-September 1931
Accompanied by Louis H. Walz (AC 1931) and John W. Harlow.
South Dakota: Porcupine and Wounded Knee Creeks, Pine Ridge Reservation. In Oglala Lakota Nation.
Wyoming: Van Tassell. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Act of February 28, 1877.
September-December 1932
Accompanied by Florence Loomis and their two sons, Newell C. and Frederic B. Loomis, Jr.
New Mexico: Chaco Canyon and surrounding areas. On Puebloan and Navajo homelands taken by the Fort Sumner Treaty of 1868.
June-September 1933
Accompanied by Eugene Ten Broeck Mudge (AC 1934), and Gilbert H. Mudge (AC 1936).
Nebraska: Antelope Creek, Cherry County. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Act of February 28, 1877.
Wyoming: Seaman Hills, Niobrara County. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Act of February 28, 1877.
June-September 1934
Accompanied by two Amherst students, names unknown.
South Dakota: Porcupine and Wounded Knee Creeks, Pine Ridge Reservation. In Oglala Lakota Nation.
Nebraska: Antelope Creek, Cherry County. On Lakota and Arapaho homelands taken by the Act of February 28, 1877.
June-August 1936
Part of the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition run by Ansel Hall.
Accompanied by William S. Putnam (AC 1939), William J. Branstrom, Jr. (AC 1939), and Frederic B. Loomis, Jr. (AC 1937).
Utah: Monument Valley. In Navajo Nation.
Arizona: Rainbow Bridge and Plateau. In Navajo Nation.

Extent

1.25 Linear feet (3 archives boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Dr. Frederic Brewster Loomis spent his life and career within the community of Amherst College—first as a student (class of 1896), then as a dedicated teacher and scientist. Professionally, he was a vertebrate paleontologist, and conducted expeditions across the continental United States and in Native American nations.

This collection of professional papers contains correspondence, lectures, scientific articles in print and typescript, teaching materials, and research notes related to the paleontological and educational work of Dr. Loomis, both at Amherst College and in the field.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged into four series:
  1. Series 1: Professional Correspondence, 1910 - 1929
  2. Series 2: Scientific Expeditions, 1903 - 1938
  3. Series 3: Teaching, 1901-1937
  4. Series 4: Scientific Research, 1904 - 1938

Custodial History

This collection was a gift of the Amherst College Geology Department circa 1971. As the transfer predated detailed record keeping, we have no further information on the collection's origins.

Related Material at Amherst College

Archival Collections

The Amherst College Scrapbook Collection

The "Amherst College Biological Expedition to Patagonia" scrapbook is in Series 2: Institutional Scrapbooks, Sub-Series A: Administrative Scrapbooks. Walter Shumway (AC 1911), one of two students who travelled with Professor Loomis, documented their travels in South America and Argentina with photographs, news clippings, and other ephemera.
https://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/amherst/ma99.html

The Pratt Museum of Natural History Records

Series 1 and 2 contain field notebooks, expedition correspondence and reports, and specimen records. The fieldwork data and specimens were the raw material for Loomis' scientific research.

Series 3 contains photographs and prints from expeditions, as well as from museum exhibits. Photographs from expeditions and field work show Loomis, his family, and Amherst College students, faculty, and staff during the early 20th century. Images of mounted museum specimens show teaching exhibits on evolution built from Loomis's paleontological work.
https://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/amherst/ma19_main.html

Alumni Biographical Files

Frederic Brewster Loomis (AC 1896)'s Alumni Biographical File contains a Phi Delta Theta fraternity initiation letter, news clippings concerning Loomis's work, journal offprints, biographical record questionnaire responses, and memorial articles. There is also an essay by Irving Holley (AC 1940) on his memories of Loomis's teaching style and character.
https://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/amherst/ma53.html

Museum Collections

Beneski Museum of Natural History

At the Beneski Museum of Natural History (formerly the Pratt Museum) on campus, many of Loomis's finds, including the Florida mammoth, are on display. In addition, some of Loomis's fossil specimen collections are available for scientific research. https://www.amherst.edu/museums/naturalhistory

Beneski Museum of Natural History
Beneski Building
11 Barrett Hill Road
Amherst, MA 01002
413-542-2165

Bibliography

Sources for the biographical note:
  • Amherst College. Amherst College Biographical Record 1973: Biographical Record of the Graduates and Non-Graduates of the Classes of 1822-1971 Inclusive. Edited by J. Alfred Guest. Vol. 1. Amherst, Mass.: Trustees of Amherst College, 1973.
  • Bradley, Lawrence W. Dinosaurs and Indians: Paleontology Resource Dispossession from Sioux Lands. Denver: Outskirts Press, Inc. 2014.
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs. “Indian Affairs | Tribal Leaders Directory Map. Washington, DC: Department of the Interior, 2016.https://www.bia.gov/sites/bia.gov/libraries/maps/tld_map.html.
  • Granger, Walter. "Memorial to Frederick Brewster Loomis [1873-1937]." In Proceedings of the Geological Society of America for 1937, 173–81. New York, NY: Geological Society of America, 1938.
  • Meltzer, David J. The Great Paleolithic War: How Science Forged an Understanding of America’s Ice Age Past. Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press, 2015.
  • Royce, Charles C, and Cyrus Thomas. Indian Land Cessions in the United States. H.R. Doc. No. 736. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1899. Library of Congress, American Memory. https://www.loc.gov/item/13023487/.
  • Native American homelands' locations were identified through multiple resources, including tribal nations' websites and historic maps and government documents. Cassandra Hradil and Mike Kelly helped develop the language used to recognize the sovereign status of Native American nations and to describe the colonial aspects of Loomis's paleontological work.

Processing Information

2017: As part of Amherst College's Bicentennial project, archivist Jennifer Bolmarcich reprocessed the Loomis Papers in accordance with current professional practice (Describing Archives: A Content Standard).
2002: Benjamin Ledsham (AC 2002) and Peter A. Nelson, Assistant Archivist, encoded the circa 1976 finding aid in EAD.
Status
Completed
Author
Jennifer Bolmarcich
Date
2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Sponsor
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded EAD encoding in 2002.
Edition statement
2nd edition. 1st edition 1976, encoded 2002.

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299