The Fate of the Invertebrate Collections of the North Pacific Exploring Expedition, 1853-1856

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  • Authors discuss the 1853-1856 North Pacific Exploring Expedition, for which William Stimpson was Chief Zoologist. He was in charge of publishing the expedition's results, and arrived at the Smithsonian in late1856 to begin the task. Stimpson remained as curator of the invertebrate collections until 1865 when he left to become Secretary of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, though a close relationship with the Smithsonian was maintained. The Chicago Academy of Sciences was destroyed by fire in 1871; all of the academy's collections were lost, together with many specimens borrowed from the Smithsonian and most of Stimpson's manuscripts, notes and drawings.
  • However, the authors conclude that part of Stimpson's collections from the expedition survived since numbers of specimens had previously been lent to other institutions or individuals via a world-wide system of exchange that he had established. The authors state that they hope to trace specimens and information regarding the collection and to issue a report on their findings in the future.


  • Stimpson, William 1832-1872
  • Chicago Academy of Sciences
  • National Collections


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography

Contained within

History in the Service of Systematics (Book)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Crustacea
  • Scientific expeditions
  • Marine invertebrates
  • Disasters
  • Fire
  • Collectors and collecting
  • North Pacific Exploring Expedition
  • National Collections
  • Great Fire, Chicago, Ill., 1871
  • Fires



Physical description

pp. 79-85

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