THE CONSERVATION AND DIGITIZATION OF THE MICROFOSSIL COLLECTION AT THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
The AMNH microfossil collection contains many Columbia University dissertation type and figured specimens and research material from studies led by G. M. Kay, J. J. Galloway and H. N. Coryell between the late 1920s and the 1950s, the foundation for important taxonomic papers written in a formative period of North American micropaleontology. They include Paleozoic Ostracoda (A. S. Warthin) and Fusulinida (T. G. Roberts), and Maastrichtian-Paleocene (M. P. White) and Pleistocene foraminifera (J. J. Galloway and S. G. Wissler). Some collections were added when A. Messina was associate curator of the Department of Micropaleontology (1934-1967), working on the Ellis and Messina Catalog of Foraminifera.
By early 1980s, the collection had fallen into disrepair, and some specimens (including types) and a large collection of bulk sample material (6000 lots) from classical microfossil localities was sent to the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). The 7000 remaining microfossil lots, including many from localities no longer accessible, were at immediate risk of specimen loss and data dissociation due to suboptimal storage and lack of digitization.
Rehousing and digitization began in the summer of 2013. Six interns helped curate, catalog and digitize the collection, and made light microscope photographs of type specimens. We plan to continue conservation work and digitization through 2015, as well as CT scanning of select, taxonomically important type specimens. We plan to electronically link the data gathered from our microfossil types to its much larger sister collection at the NMNH creating new, potentially transformative, research opportunities. This project will continue to support and train student interns in modern curatorial practices during the summer intern sessions of 2014 and 2015.