Smithsonian Collections Lost in Chicago Fire

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The Chicago fire destroys the Chicago Academy of Sciences. Smithsonian collections at the Academy are destroyed, including the best part of the material of the Department of Marine Invertebrates, United States National Museum, which were being worked on by William Stimpson. The loss includes most of the Smithsonian crustacean holdings from the U.S. Exploring Expedition which had been sent to the Academy for comparison with other collections. About fifty ethnographic pieces are also lost.


  • Stimpson, William 1832-1872
  • Chicago Academy of Sciences
  • United States Exploring Expedition (USEE)
  • United States National Museum
  • United States National Museum Dept. of Marine Invertebrates


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1882, p. 143
  • Viola, Herman J. and Carolyn Margolis, editors. Magnificent Voyagers, p. 79, 120

Contact information

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


October, 1871


  • Marine invertebrates
  • Losses
  • Antiquities
  • Natural History
  • Fire
  • Specimens
  • Anthropology
  • Museums
  • Invertebrates
  • National Collections
  • Accidents
  • Museum exhibits
  • Fires
  • Natural history


Chicago (Ill.)

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