The Academy of Natural Sciences
Specialty: Natural history
The Academy of Natural Sciences was founded in 1812 and is the oldest natural science research institution in the Americas. Among its early acquisitions are a collection of fossils from Thomas Jefferson, plants from the Lewis and Clark expedition, Audubon’s birds (not just paintings, but the birds themselves!), and fish from Napoleon’s nephew. Today, Academy scientists study evolution, biodiversity and ecology, providing information critical to understanding the natural world. As Philadelphia’s natural history museum, the Academy educates visitors of all ages. The Academy is recognized internationally for research, exhibits, educational programs, and its still growing collection (300,000 new specimens in 2006) of 17 million natural history specimens and artifacts.
The Ewell Sale Stewart Library collections include 200,000 volumes ranging from works published in the 1500s to current serials and monographs from all over the world, including electronic format. The Library’s published collection is superbly complemented by an extensive collection of some 250,000 archival items, including an abundance of scientific and personal unpublished materials derived from the collections of scientists and others associated with the Academy. The Library is a treasure house of magnificent illustrated volumes on natural sciences, together with numerous original sketches and illustrations prepared for inclusion in scientific publications. The Archives houses a wide diversity of media including manuscript correspondence, field notebooks, personal diaries, and many photographic formats. Artifacts such as a life mask of Audubon and copperplates used in the printing of Audubon’s and Wilson’s works are also part of the Archives collection.