Paper No. 152-11
Presentation Time: 4:25 PM
THE STERNBERG COLLECTION AT GRAND RAPIDS COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Recent efforts to reorganize and catalog fossil specimens in the geology collections at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan resulted in the discovery of numerous fossil specimens collected by the infamous North American fossil collectors, Charles H. Sternberg and his three sons. We were able to attribute these fossils to the Sternberg family because of the many original, hand-written identification labels in the collections. Many of these labels are signed “Sternberg,” with one signed “Chas. H. Sternberg.” Forensic handwriting analyses performed by an expert document examiner show that these labels were not written by Charles H. Sternberg, but most likely by his son, George F. Sternberg, founder of the Sternberg Museum in Fort Hays, Kansas. The fossil specimens include plants, cephalopods, crinoids, fishes, reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, and mammals collected by the Sternbergs. We were unable to determine how or when these fossils arrived at GRCC, but they likely were sold or donated by Charles H. Sternberg himself in 1918 when he sold off or donated his remaining collections to schools and museums around the world before moving to California from Kansas. To date, 35 specimens have been positively attributed to the Sternbergs through labels, and another 33 were very likely collected by the Sternbergs as evidenced by the taxa and provenance of the fossils. Here we provide detailed information on the specimens in our ‘Sternberg Collection,’ and re-tell some of the Sternbergs’ story by using fossils from this collection, which reflect some very famous collections and localities of the Sternberg family. The fossils in our ‘Sternberg Collection’ range from the teenage years of Charles H. Sternberg collecting leaves in the Dakota Formation starting in 1867, to his famous collections in the Kansas chalks beginning in 1876. This collection also contains fossils collected during his return to the “Sternberg Quarry” with his sons in 1909, as well as dinosaurs collected with his sons in Wyoming from 1908 to 1911.