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Finding Aids to Personal Papers and Special Collections in the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Record Unit 7078

Rathbun, Richard, 1852-1918

Richard Rathbun Papers, 1870-1918 and undated

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at osiaref@si.edu.
Creator: Rathbun, Richard, 1852-1918
Title: Richard Rathbun Papers
Dates: 1870-1918 and undated
Quantity: 7.9 cu. ft. (15 document boxes) (1 half document box) (1 3x5 box)
Collection: Record Unit 7078
Language of Materials: English
Summary:

The papers of Richard Rathbun document his early investigations in geology and paleontology; his college career at Cornell University, 1871-1872; his work as Geologist on the Geological Commission of Brazil, 1875-1878; and his scientific and administrative careers with the United States Fish Commission and United States National Museum. Of special interest are correspondence and other materials concerning Samuel P. Langley's aerodrome experiments of 1903. The papers consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence; notebooks; manuscripts and research material; notes and sketches; photographs and lantern slides; and a manuscript on architecture by Rathbun's son, Seward Hume Rathbun.

Historical Note

Richard Rathbun (1852-1918) was born in Buffalo, New York. He received his early education in the public schools of Buffalo and after graduation worked in his father's stone quarry business. Rathbun developed an early interest in the geology and paleontology of western New York, and by 1870 had deposited large collections of fossils in the Buffalo Society of Natural History. In 1871, Rathbun entered Cornell University on the advice of the distinguished Brazilian explorer, Charles F. Hartt. He left Cornell in 1873 to study the fossil collections at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. In 1874, he was appointed assistant in zoology in the Boston Society of Natural History. While serving in this position, Rathbun also worked as a volunteer assistant with the United States Fish Commission (USFC). In 1875, he became a geologist with the Geological Commission of Brazil, under the direction of Hartt. He remained in Brazil until 1878, when he returned to the United States to accept the position of scientific assistant with the USFC. Rathbun remained on the staff of the USFC until 1896. His association with the Smithsonian Institution and United States National Museum began in 1881, when he was made honorary curator of the Department of Marine Invertebrates, a position he held until 1914. In 1897, Rathbun accepted the position of assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, in charge of Office and Exchanges. In 1898, Rathbun's duties were expanded to include certain aspects of museum administration, and in 1901 his title was changed to Assistant secretary, in charge of the National Museum, a position he held until his death in 1918.

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Descriptive Entry

The papers of Richard Rathbun document his early investigations in geology and paleontology; his college career at Cornell University, 1871-1872; his work as geologist on the Geological Commission of Brazil, 1875-1878; and his scientific and administrative careers with the United States Fish Commission and United States National Museum. Of special interest is correspondence and other materials concerning Samuel P. Langley's aerodrome experiments of 1903. The papers consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence; notebooks; manuscripts and research material; notes and sketches; photographs and lantern slides; and a manuscript on architecture by Rathbun's son, Seward Hume Rathbun.

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Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7078, Richard Rathbun Papers

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Container List

Series 1

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1871-1918, AND UNDATED. ARRANGED ALPHABETICALLY.

This series consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence of Richard Rathbun. The correspondence is both professional and personal and concerns the administration of the United States Fish Commission and United States National Museum (USNM); paleontological and zoological research; Rathbun's activity in scientific societies and social organizations; business concerns; and personal matters. Correspondents include Fish Commission, Smithsonian, and USNM staff members; professional colleagues; family members; and friends. Subjects of special interest include Samuel P. Langley's aerodrome experiments, 1903; Charles D. Walcott's paleontological field work in the Canadian Rockies, 1912; Rathbun's work on the Geological Commission of Brazil, 1875-1878; and the early history of the American Association of Museums (see under Hermon Carey Bumpus, William Jacob Holland, and William John McGee).

Box 1

Folder 1 Aa-Am, general.

Box 1 of 17

Folder 2 Adee, Alvey A., 1895-1897.

Box 1 of 17

Folder 3 Adler, Cyrus, 1897-1905.

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Folder 4 Agassiz, Alexander, 1875-1905.

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Folder 5 Allen, Joel Asaph, 1886-1889.

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Folder 6 American Association of Museums, 1907-1919. Includes correspondence of Paul Marshall Rea.

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Folder 7 American Association of Museums, 1905-1916. Publications, circulars, and clippings.

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Folder 8 American Society of Naturalists, 1886-1905.

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Folder 9 An-Az, general.

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Folder 10 Ba-Bl, general.

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Folder 11 Baird, Lucy H., 1889-1912.

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Folder 12 Baird, Spencer F., 1873-1887.

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Folder 13 Baker, Marcus, 1888-1891.

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Folder 14 Barnum, William, 1897.

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Box 2

Folder 1 Bean, Tarleton Hoffman, 1882-1899.

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Folder 2 Benedict, James E., 1883-1900.

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Folder 3 Bland, Thomas, 1874-1875.

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Folder 4 Bo-Bu, general.

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Folder 5 Branner, John Casper, 1883-1905.

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Folder 6 Brice, John J., 1896-1897.

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Folder 7 Brooks, William Keith, 1883-1890.

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Folder 8 Brown, Stephen C., 1882, 1887.

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Folder 9 Bumpus, Hermon Carey, 1900-1907.

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Folder 10 Ca-Cl, general.

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Folder 11 Century Company, 1886-1905.

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Folder 12 Clarke, Samuel Fessenden, 1886-1895.

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Folder 13 Co-Cu, general.

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Folder 14 Comstock, John Henry, 1881-1883, 1895.

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Folder 15 Cope, Edward Drinker, 1883-1884.

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Folder 16 Cornell University, 1875-1916.

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Folder 17 Cosmos Club, 1883-1913.

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Box 3

Folder 1 D, general

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Folder 2 Dall, William H., 1882-1901.

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Folder 3 Dana, James Dwight, 1880-1889.

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Folder 4 Dean, Bashford, 1891-1905.

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Folders 5-6 Derby, Orville A., 1873-1904. Includes correspondence concerning Derby's and Rathbun's work on the Geological Commission of Brazil, 1875-1878.

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Folder 7 Dunlap, Irving H., 1896-1918.

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Folder 8 E, general.

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Folder 9 Earll, R. Edward, 1881-1895.

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Folder 10 Edwards, Vinal N., 1881-1905.

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Folder 11 Emerton, James H., 1880-1884.

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Folder 12 F, general.

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Folder 13 Farlow, William Gilson, 1882-1913.

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Folder 14 Faxon, Walter, 1883-1889.

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Folder 15 Fewkes, J. Walter, 1887-1888.

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Folder 16 G, general.

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Folder 17 Geare, Randolph Iltyd, 1884-1905.

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Folder 18 Gilbert, Charles Henry, 1889-1891.

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Folder 19 Gill, Herbert A., 1883-1905.

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Folder 20 Goode, George Brown, 1881-1896, 1900. Includes correspondence of Sarah F. J. Goode (Mrs. George Brown Goode), 1900.

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Folder 21 Grote, August Radcliff, 1873-1874.

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Folder 22 Ha-Hi, general.

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Box 4

Folder 1 Hall, James, 1874-1875.

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Folder 2 Hammond, Frank, 1889-1902.

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Folders 3-4 Hartt, Charles F., 1872-1878, and undated. The correspondence concerns the work of the Geological Commission of Brazil, 1872-1878.

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Folder 5 Henshaw, Henry Wetherbee, 1889-1904.

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Folder 6 Herrick, Francis H., 1889-1900.

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Folder 7 Ho-Hu, general.

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Folder 8 Holland, William Jacob, 1900-1916.

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Folder 9 Hume, L. S., 1885-1890.

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Folder 10 Hume, William S., 1884-1905.

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Folder 11 Hyatt, Alpheus, 1875-1895.

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Folder 12 I, general.

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Folder 13 Iowa Apartment House Company, 1900-1902. Includes correspondence of Charles D. Walcott.

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Folder 14 J, general.

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Folder 15 James, O. C., 1876. The correspondence concerns the work of the Geological Commission of Brazil, 1876.

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Folder 16 Jordan, David Starr, 1882-1918.

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Folder 17 K, general.

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Folder 18 Kidder, Jerome H., 1887-1888. Includes correspondence of Anne Mary Kidder and Camillus G. Kidder, 1888-1905.

Box 4 of 17

Folder 19 L, general.

Box 4 of 17

Folder 20 Langley, Samuel P., 1887-1905. Also included is correspondence of Anne W. Ciocca (Langley's sister), 1911-1914, and newspaper clippings regarding the successful flight of the Langley aerodrome in 1914. The correspondence of 1903 concerns the flight tests of the aerodrome.

Box 4 of 17

Folder 21 Lee, Leslie Alexander, 1884-1890.

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Box 5

Folder 1 Linton, Edwin, 1887-1895.

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Folder 2 Lucas, Frederic Agustus, 1891-1905.

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Folder 3 Ma-Mi, general.

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Folder 4 McDonald, Marshall, 1889-1891.

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Folder 5 McGee, William John, 1889-1905.

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Folder 6 Mason, Otis Tufton, 1900-1905.

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Folder 7 Mather, Fred, 1882-1888.

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Folder 8 Meek, Fielding Bradford, 1875.

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Folder 9 Merriam, Clinton Hart, 1886-1905.

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Folder 10 Merrill, George P., 1888-1905.

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Folder 11 Meyer, Adolf B., 1899-1905.

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Folder 12 Miller, Warren F., 1882-1905.

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Folder 13 Minot, Charles Sedgwick, 1888-1889.

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Folder 14 Mitsukuri, Kakichi, 1883-1905.

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Folder 15 Mo-Mu, general.

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Folder 16 Morse, Edward Sylvester, 1873-1902.

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Folder 17 Moser, Jefferson Franklin, 1896-1897.

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Folder 18 Murdoch, John, 1881-1897.

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Folder 19 N, general.

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Folder 20 Norman, Alfred M., 1883-1890.

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Folder 21 O, general.

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Folder 22 Olmsted, Helen A., 1901-1905.

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Folder 23 Orton, James, 1875, and undated.

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Folder 24 Osborn, Henry Leslie, 1883-1886.

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Folder 25 P, general.

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Folder 26 Packard, Alpheus Spring, Jr., 1873-1884, and undated.

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Folder 27 Palmer, Edward, 1873-1884, and undated.

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Folder 28 Phillips, Barnet, 1888-1899.

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Folder 29 Philosophical Society of Washington, 1884-1913.

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Folder 30 Q, general.

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Box 6

Folder 1 R, general.

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Folder 2 Rathbun, Emily, 1877-1902, and undated.

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Folder 3 Rathbun, Frank R., 1882.

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Folder 4 Rathbun, Julius G., 1881-1902, and undated.

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Folder 5 Rathbun, Mary Jane, 1876-1905.

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Folder 6 Rathbun, Seward Hume, 1896-1912.

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Folder 7 Ravenel, William deC., 1896-1916.

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Folder 8 Rice, Marshall N., 1896-1897.

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Folder 9 Ryder, John A., 1882-1890.

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Folder 10 Sa-Sm, general.

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Folder 11 Scudder, Samuel H., 1875-1886.

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Folder 12 Seligsburg, Louis, 1904-1905.

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Folder 13 Shufeldt, Robert Wilson, 1882-1905.

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Folder 14 Smiley, Charles W., 1883-1887.

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Folder 15 Smith, Hugh McCormick, 1897-1916.

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Folder 16 Smith, Sidney Irving, 1880-1890.

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Folder 17 So-Sw, general.

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Folder 18 T, general.

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Folder 19 Tanner, Zera Luther, 1881-1897.

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Folder 20 True, Frederick William, 1883-1908.

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Folder 21 Tyler, John Mason, 1881-1890.

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Folder 22 U-V, general.

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Folder 23 United States Geological Survey, 1884-1889.

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Folder 24 Verrill, Addison Emery, 1873-1917.

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Box 7

Folder 1 Wa-Wh, general.

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Folder 2 Wakeham, William, 1895-1898.

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Folder 3 Walcott, Charles D., 1887-1916. The correspondence of 1912 concerns Walcott's field work in the Canadian Rockies.

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Folder 4 Washington Academy of Sciences, 1899-1913.

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Folder 5 Watkins, J. Elfreth, 1900-1902.

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Folder 6 Wheeler, Charles LeRoy, 1882-1884.

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Folder 7 White, Charles Abiathar, 1875-1887.

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Folder 8 Wi-Wr, general.

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Folder 9 Williams, Henry Shaler, 1888-1889.

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Folder 10 Wilson, Edmund Beecher, 1881-1904.

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Folder 11 X-Z, general.

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Folder 12 Illegible signatures and unidentified correspondence.

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Series 2

LETTERS OF CONDOLENCE ON THE DEATH OF RICHARD RATHBUN, 1918. ARRANGED ALPHABETICALLY.

This series consists of letters of condolence addressed to Mrs. Richard Rathbun on the death of her husband in 1918. Correspondents include family members, professional colleagues, and friends. Also included are xerox copies of obituaries.

Box 7

Folders 13-15 Letters of condolence on the death of Richard Rathbun, 1918. A-Z and unidentified.

Box 7 of 17

Folder 16 Xerox copies of obituaries.

Box 7 of 17

Series 3

OUTGOING CORRESPONDENCE, 1885-1889. ARRANGED CHRONOLOGICALLY.

This series consists of one letterpress book containing copies of outgoing correspondence of Richard Rathbun, 1885-1889. While the volume is marked personal, most of the correspondence deals with Rathbun's work with the United States Fish Commission. Of particular interest are several letters from Rathbun to George Brown Goode concerning administrative changes in the Fish Commission after the death of Spencer F. Baird in 1887. Also included is correspondence written by Rathbun in his capacity as honorary curator of the Department of Marine Invertebrates, United States National Museum. The volume is partially indexed, alphabetically by correspondent.

Box 8

Folder 1 Outgoing correspondence, February 18, 1885 - June 13, 1889.

Box 8 of 17

Series 4

NOTEBOOKS, 1870-1891, AND UNDATED. ARRANGED CHRONOLOGICALLY.

This series includes class notebooks maintained by Richard Rathbun at Cornell University; notebooks dealing with his research on paleontology and invertebrate zoology; notebooks and daybooks kept by Rathbun in his administrative capacity with the United States Fish Commission; notebooks containing material concerning the Fur Seal Tribunal at Paris, 1891; and miscellaneous notebooks.

Box 8

Folder 2 Notebook containing research data on paleontology of Buffalo, New York, 1870-1873, and notes and drawings on "Lower Devonian Fossils of Ecere Province do Para, Brazil collected by the Hartt expedition."

Box 8 of 17

Folder 3 Notebook containing class notes on geology, Cornell University fall term, 1871-1872.

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Folder 4 Notebook containing notes and drawings on Brachiopods, 1872-1873.

Box 8 of 17

Folder 5 Notebook containing research material on specimens collected by Charles F. Hartt in Brazil, 1872-1873.

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Folder 6 Notebook kept by Richard Rathbun on a dredging cruise of the coast steamer Bache in the Gulf of Maine, 1874.

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Folder 7 Miscellaneous notebooks, 1879-1880.

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Folder 8 Notebook containing research data on Entomstraca, 1881.

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Folder 9 Notebook containing shipment records of the United States Fish Commission, July 1884.

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Folder 10 Notebook containing list of boxes and franks sent to the Fish Hawk, October 1884.

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Folder 11 Notebook containing research data on parasitic copepods, 1884.

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Folder 12 Daybook, December 18, 1884 - February 6, 1885.

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Folder 13 Daybook, February 6 - May 1, 1885.

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Box 9

Folder 1 Daybook, May 1 - October 6, 1885.

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Folder 2 Daybook, October 24, 1885 - March 28, 1886.

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Folder 3 Notebook containing shipment records of the United States Fish Commission, 1885.

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Folder 4 Notebook containing research data on lobster experiments conducted at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, 1885-1886.

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Folder 5 Notebook containing list of boxes and franks sent from Woods Hole, Massachusetts, to Washington, D.C., October 1886.

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Folders 6-7 Two notebooks containing material prepared by Richard Rathbun for the Fur Seal Tribunal at Paris, 1891.

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Folders 8-9 Miscellaneous notebooks.

Box 9 of 17

Series 5

UNITED STATES NATIONAL MUSEUM BULLETIN, #101, THE COLUMBIAN INSTITUTE FOR THE PROMOTION OF ARTS AND SCIENCES, 1917. NOTES, DRAFTS, AND RESEARCH MATERIAL.

In 1917, the United States National Museum published Bulletin #101, The Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, by Richard Rathbun. This series consists of notes, annotated drafts, and related research material used by Rathbun in the preparation of the bulletin.

Box 10

Folders 1-6 Notes, drafts, and related research material used in the preparation of bulletin # 101, The Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, by Richard Rathbun, 1917.

Box 10 of 17
NOTES, DRAFTS, AND RELATED MATERIAL CONCERNING THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE, UNDATED.

Richard Rathbun did extensive research on collections exhibited in Washington, D.C. before the establishment of the United States National Museum (USNM), with the purpose of preparing a series of bulletins on the origins of the national collections. USNM Bulletin #101, The Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, 1917, was the only monograph he completed (see series 5). This series consists of notes, a draft of a manuscript, and related material compiled by Richard Rathbun for a projected monograph on the National Institute. Also included is correspondence of Mary Jane Rathbun and Frederick L. Lewton concerning Rathbun's research on the national collections.

Box 11

Folder 1 Draft of a manuscript, "The National Institute for the Promotion of Science," by Richard Rathbun. Unpublished.

Box 11 of 17

Folders 2-4 Notes and research material.

Box 11 of 17

Box 12

Folders 1-5 Notes and research material.

Box 12 of 17

Folder 6 Correspondence. Includes letters from Mary Jane Rathbun to William deC. Ravenel, March 24, 1922, and Frederick L. Lewton to Alexander Wetmore, January 16, 1936, concerning Richard Rathbun's research on the National Institute.

Box 12 of 17

Series 7

MANUSCRIPT ON ARCHITECTURE BY SEWARD HUME RATHBUN, UNDATED.

Seward Hume Rathbun (1886-1965), son of Richard Rathbun, was an architect, artist, teacher, and writer. This series consists of a manuscript, "A Background to Architecture" by Seward Hume Rathbun. Also included is biographical material on Rathbun.

Box 13

Folders 1-4 Manuscript. "A Background to Architecture," by Seward Hume Rathbun.

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Folder 5 Biographical material on Seward Hume Rathbun.

Box 13 of 17

Series 8

NOTES AND SKETCHES, 1870-1878, AND UNDATED. ARRANGED ALPHABETICALLY.

This series consists of notes and sketches by Richard Rathbun concerning invertebrate zoology, geology, and paleontology. Included are extensive notes and sketches made by Rathbun while he served as geologist on the Geological Commission of Brazil, 1875-1878.

Box 13

Folder 6 Actinaria, 1873.

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Folder 7 Baltenia reniformis, 1873.

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Folder 8 Brachiopoda, undated.

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Box 14

Folder 4 Brazilian Geology, 1875-1878.

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Folder 5 Brazilian Paleontology, 1875-1878.

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Folder 6 Cephalopoda, undated.

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Folder 7 Crucibulum striatum, Noank, Connecticut, August-September 1876.

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Folder 8 Ctenophorae, Discophorae, and Hydroidae, 1873.

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Folder 9 Cymbula, undated.

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Folder 10 Cynthia pyriformis, New England, 1873.

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Folder 11 Discina, 1873.

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Folder 12 Dredging, 1873.

Box 14 of 17

Box 15

Folder 1 Echinidea and Actinaria, United States, 1873.

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Folder 2 Gasteropoda, 1873-1875.

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Folder 3 Geology, United States, 1873.

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Folder 4 Insecta, 1874.

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Folder 5 Lamellibranchiala, undated.

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Folder 6 Polyzoa, 1873.

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Folder 7 Seaweed, Noank, Connecticut, undated.

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Folder 8 Squid, 1873.

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Folder 9 Terebratulina septentrionalis, undated.

Box 15 of 17

Folder 10 Tunicata, undated.

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Folder 11 Zoology, 1870.

Box 15 of 17

Series 9

PHOTOGRAPHS AND LANTERN SLIDES, CIRCA 1875-1895, AND UNDATED.

This series consists of photographs and lantern slides collected by Richard Rathbun. Included are photographs of Brazil taken while Rathbun served as geologist on the Geological Commission of Brazil, 1875-1878; landscapes of British Columbia; an album of photographs documenting seal rookeries on the Pribilof Islands, 1895; and lantern slides of corals and Brazilian scenes.

Box 15

Folder 12 Album containing photographs of Brazil, 1875-1878, and British Columbia, undated.

Box 15 of 17

Box 16

Folder 1 Album containing photographs of seal rookeries on Pribilof Islands, 1895.

Box 16 of 17

Box 17

Lantern slides of corals and Brazilian scenes.

Box 17 of 17