Pratt Museum of Natural History Records
Scope and Contents
Reports, correspondence, clippings, photographs, field notebooks and catalogues related to the various natural history collections formerly held in the Pratt Museum, as well as expeditionary field work undertaken to develop those collections. Also includes some records of the Amherst College department of Geology.
- Creation: 1866-2000
- Pratt Museum of Natural History (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
In general, there is no restriction on access to the Pratt Museum Records for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.
Conditions Governing Use
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyright.
Biographical / Historical
The Pratt Museum of Natural History opened in the 1940s to house Amherst College's natural history collections after the renovation of the Pratt Gymnasium. The gymnasium, built in 1883, had been named after its donor, Charles M. Pratt (AC 1879). Until that time, most of the collections had been held in Webster Hall, and before that in various scientific "cabinets" in various locations on campus. The Pratt Museum's holdings, collected since the 1820s from around the world and comprising about 80,000 objects with historic as well as scientific importance, included vertebrate and invertebrate skeletons and fossils, the College's collection of dinosaur tracks (notable for being the world's largest), minerals, geologic phenomena, and anthropological artifacts. Most of the displays in the Pratt Museum were designed and constructed by Professor George Bain and his associates.
Many of the Pratt Museum's skeletons resulted from expeditions led by Professor Frederic Loomis (AC 1896), a vertebrate paleontologist. Loomis came to Amherst in 1899 and taught biology, comparative, mineralogy and geology. He took Amherst students on over 18 digs in the U.S. and South America. Loomis died at a dig in Alaska in 1937.
In 2006, the Pratt Museum moved with the department of Geology to a new building on the east slope of Barrett Hill.
7 Linear feet (11 archives boxes, 1 half archives box, 1 records storage box, 1 oversize flat file)
Language of Materials
Reports, correspondence, clippings, photographs, field notebooks and catalogues related to the natural history collections formerly held in the Pratt Museum, as well as expeditionary field work undertaken to develop those collections. Also includes some records of the Amherst College department of Geology.
This collection is organized into five series:
- Series 1: Correspondence and Reports
- Series 2: Expeditions
- Series 3: Photographs
- Series 4: Materials Concerning Pratt Museum Collection
- Series 5: Notebooks and Catalogues
- Peter A. Nelson
- Language of description
- Script of description