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How long have you worked at the NHM?


17 years.


What were you doing before you came here?


When I finished my degree in Science Policy I got as job as a trainee Library Assistant in the Library at UCL.  I spent a year at UCL dividing my time between the Medical Sciences Section of the Main Science Library and the Boldero Library in the Middlesex hospital.   I loved the job and was inspired to do a professional library qualification at Sheffield University.  After my Master’s I stayed on to do a PhD at Sheffield looking at the impact of the Internet on the information seeking behaviour of academic researchers.  I then joined the NHM as an Assistant Librarian in the Earth Sciences Library, initially looking after the journals collections and then the books.  I have been the Library’s Collection Manager, working across all subject collections since 2003.Mel-Smith-Library-Collections-Manager.jpg


What does your average day look like?

I don’t really have an average day.  My main role is to ensure that the library collections are happy, that they are available to Library users and we acquire appropriate new content that meets our users’ needs.  My team is  responsible for the acquisition and curation of the Modern Library Collections and they get on with the day to day work of looking after the library collections. I spend most of my time on project work which at the moment includes the Library elements of the Museum’s Collections Storage project (CSIP).


If you had to pick one favourite from the L&A collections what would it be?


Back to my Earth Sciences days I’ve always liked Sopwith’s Geological Models which are beautiful wooden models of various geological features which can be quite a challenge to put together for a display, as I know to my cost.  Also François Louis Swebach Desfontaines’, mineral prospectus is really unusual and quite stunning.


Do you have a favourite place or object on display in the Museum?


I like the gems exhibition in the Earth Galleries.


If you had to spend the rest of your life as an animal, what would it be and why?


A Meerkat, I like to keep an eye on what’s happening around me.


This week we have 51 new additions (attached) covering Zoology, General Natural History, Earth Sciences, Ornithology, Entomology and Botany. 

If you wish to view these or any other items, please contact the library to arrange an appointment or 020 7942 5460


The Library catalogue is available online and more information about the Library & Archives collections can be found via our website




As a pioneer in the field of depicting symbiotic relationships, Maria Sibylla Merian is credited with inspiring such key entomological texts as De Nederlandsche Insecten (Sepp & Sepp, 1762) & British Entomology (Curtis, 1823-1840). Even today, her work is valued not just for its aesthetic appeal but also for the accuracy of its scientific content.


Born in Frankfurt am Main in 1647, Maria was the daughter of a Matthaeus Merian the Elder, a very well-known etcher, and Johanna Catharina Heim. After Matthaeus died in 1650, Johanna remarried. As a pupil of Georg Flegel (1566-1638), and a celebrated botanical artist in his own right, Maria’s stepfather Jacob Marrell (1614-1681) was to play a key part in the encouragement and development of Maria’s artistic talent. By the age of 11, Maria had learnt the art of copper engraving from her stepfather; by the age of 13 she was keeping a journal of her efforts rearing silkworms, including notes on metamorphosis. Both interests went on to shape her life.


Married at 18 years of age to the artist Johan Andreas Graff (1637-1701), Maria gave birth to her eldest daughter (Johanna Helena) in Frankfurt Am Main in 1668. After relocating in 1670 to Nuremburg, the couples’ second daughter (Dorothea Maria) was born in 1678.




Before, between, and after the birth of her daughters Maria continued developing her artistic talents. Using her own preparations of paints and dyes on vellum, paper, and linen, Maria produced a number of still life works but also shared her knowledge by teaching local girls flower painting and embroidery. Indeed, Maria’s first published work Neues Blumenbuch (1675-1680) was issued in parts intended as a pattern book for such pursuits.


In 1679, the first part of Maria’s Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung und sonderbare Blumen-nahrung was published. The work focused on insect metamorphosis, drawn from first-hand observations of life cycles and food plants, rather than drawings of dried specimens (as was usual at the time). Jan Goedaert (1617–1668) was known as a painter of insects (including their life cycle); Botanical artists such as Georg Flegel and Balthasar ven der Ast had included insects in their paintings. However, linking insects to the specific plants they lived and fed on was quite a new approach.


Referred to by Maria as her “caterpillar books”, Der Raupen also served to demonstrate Maria’s refinement of making counterproofs, or transfer prints. Most illustrations produced via the engraving process are a mirror image of the original illustration – Maria added an extra step to the process, pressing a fresh sheet of paper against the still-wet print from a copperplate. This removed any physical impression of the copperplate from the finished product, instead leaving an outline for the final painting. Radically for an author of the time, Merian often coloured the engravings herself. 


A major change in Maria’s life came in 1681, with the death of her stepfather Jacob Marrell.  Returning to her mother’s home in Frankfurt Am Main, Maria went on to publish a second part of Der Raupen in 1683, which was issued with an additional 50 plates and accompanying text.


Maria’s life took another unexpected turn in 1685, when she entered the religious Labadist commune in Wieuwerd, Friesland, of which her brother Caspar was already a member. Her mother and daughters joined her in the move; her husband did not. Hosted in Castle Waltha, tropical insects and plants in the commune’s natural history collections caught Maria’s interest. Maria and her daughters moved to Amsterdam in 1691 after the deaths of her brother and mother (1686 and 1690 respectively). In their new home, all three became well known as natural history painters.


In 1699, Maria took the life-changing decision to travel to Surinam. Funded by selling off her artwork and natural history collections, Maria was accompanied by her daughter Dorothea rather than a male companion. Although Surinam was a Dutch territory at the time, for a woman to travel unescorted in this way was quite controversial. Maria made the concession of drafting her will, but proceeded with her journey nonetheless.


2 months of sailing later, Maria and Dorothea arrived in Surinam. Despite the ridicule of local Dutch sugar planters, the two women collected, reared, and painted the insects and plants of urban and jungle areas. After a serious illness (perhaps Yellow Fever), Maria returned to Amsterdam in 1701 with an extensive collection of plants, insects, and artwork. All three formed the basis of her highly acclaimed work Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, first published in Amsterdam in 1705. The publication in Latin and Dutch was funded in part by Maria’s commissioned art and engraving work.


Many editions were coloured by Maria’s equally talented daughters, but although Metamorphosis used Maria’s original watercolours for all the illustrations, only three of the engravings made were her own. Many of the insects and plants depicted in the work were new or little known to scientists, with plants such as pineapples, prickly custard-apples, frangipani, pomegranates, bananas, watermelons, guavas, and cashews all making an appearance. Plants depicted were both wild and cultured, due to having been chosen for their relationship with the insects they hosted.


A good indicator of the esteem in which Maria’s work was held might be considered the 1711 purchase by James Petiver of some of her artwork, on behalf of Sir Hans Sloane, and the 1717 purchase of her original drawings by Czar Peter the Great. Later, although not impressed with the cost of her works, Carl Linnaeus still cited her illustrations for several plant species and over 100 animal species. Since that time, At least 6 plants, 9 butterflies, 2 bugs, 1 spider, and 1 lizard have named in Maria’s honour.


Unfortunately Maria suffered a stroke in 1715, and was unable to continue her work. In 1717, at the age of 70, she died in Amsterdam.



Shortly after Maria’s death, a third volume of Der Raupen was published by her daughter Dorothea; this was followed in 1719 by the second edition of Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium. The second edition of Metamorphosis was again published only in Latin and Dutch, but included 12 additional plates – 10 by Maria, 2 after the collections of Albert Seba. These plates provoked criticism by the scientific community due to some baffling inaccuracies – one plate suggested that American frogs metamorphosed into tadpoles, as opposed to European tadpoles growing into frogs! Criticisms of Maria’s work also stemmed from her emphasis on biology and observation rather than taxonomy. Although the Linnean system of binomial nomenclature that is used today wasn’t introduced until 1753, taxonomy and taxonomic names were still considered crucial to the scientific process.


In all, Metamorphosis appeared in 5 editions. The 3rd and 5th editions (The Hague, 1726 and Paris, 1771) appeared in Latin and French; the 4th edition (Amsterdam, 1730), was a translation in Dutch.


Although her interest was primarily in insects, Maria’s realistic and detailed paintings of the plants they live on have ensured her work is valuable is not just to art lovers, but also to scientific community.





Harvey, J.H.V.                               

Maria Sibylla Merian: The Surinam album (commentary) (London: The Folio Society, 2006).


Magee, J.                                    

Art of Nature: Three centuries of natural history art from around the world (London: Natural History Museum, 2009).


Ogilvie, M. & Harvey, J.                 

The biographical dictionary of women in science: Volume 2, L-Z (New York & London: Routledge, 2000). Pp.884-885


Pieters, F.F.J.M. & Winthagen, D.  

Maria Sibylla Merian, naturalist and artist (1647-1717): a commemoration on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of her birth. Archives of natural history. (London: Society for the History of Natural History). Vol. 26, part 1 (February, 1999), pp.1-153


Stearn, W. T.                                

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) as a botanical artist. Taxon (Utrecht: International Bureau for Plant Taxonomy and Nomenclature). Vol. 31, part 3 (August 1982), pp. 529-534.





This blog is written by Daisy Cunynghame from our Archives team to mark Explore Your Archive Week 2013 (


Walter Rothschild (1868-1937), founder of the natural history museum in Tring (at that time titled the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum) left that museum in his will to London’s Natural History Museum, including the extensive scientific specimen collections he’d amassed throughout his life.


One notable gap though was his ornithological material – Walter’s bird collection, which he began amassing from the age of seven, was widely considered to be the most comprehensive in the world, and as a Trustee of the Natural History Museum it was presumed (by him as well as us) that they would end up in our museum in South Kensington.


Unfortunately though, ultimately his finances precluded it. The economic crash of 1929 (possibly also compounded by a rumoured case of blackmail, supposedly a result of an affair with a lady of high standing) left him financially struggling and he sold his famed bird collection to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York when they were able to raise a substantially higher balance for the collection than we.











Perhaps helping to shed a little more light on this, and definitely showing the more personal side to Walter’s decision, is the Museum Archive’s recently acquired small collection of Walter’s private letters.  Particularly interesting because he had asked that all his personal correspondence be destroyed on his death - a wish which was carried out, leaving very little of his own letters to be read.




In one letter in 1932 Walter wrote to Ernst Hartert, who had previously been one of his curators at Tring, that:







It is with a very heavy heart & with most of my life torn up, that I write these lines. Owing to the world economic conditions & the failure of many stocks & bonds to pay interest, not to talk of increased & increasing taxation, I / have been forced to retrench drastically. The 2 alternatives which faced me were either to dispose of one of my two scientific collections as a whole or else to see the museum broken up & sold piecemeal by auction. I could not face the latter alternative as my life’s work would have been annihilated. So I had to decide to dispose of that collection /for which I could find a purchaser as a whole, & that is the bird collection. I have disposed of the whole collection except about 200 skins & the 250 Struthionidae & of course the mounted portion, ie about 280000 skins & the contract as signed provides that the collection is kept together in a separate room as the Rothschild collection under a separate body of three / trustees. As the British Museum could not find the money; the collection has been purchased & presented to the American Museum. I know that you will feel as crushed by this blow as I do but the worlds collapse made it inevitable.




The deal with the AMNH was protracted with negotiations with other museums, including ourselves, also taking place.  The complexity and controversy of the deal is demonstrated by him later when he mentions:


The economic conditions in America are in such a bad way that the millionaire donor has absolutely forbidden his name or the sum to become known at present for fear of reprisals for having spent such a large sum; so at all events for some months I cannot say anything. All I can tell you is that the sum is a third more than I expected to get & much more than I even could have got in Europe before the war even [sic]. 2013_53_Hartert_sketchbook_2.jpg





Almost as excitingly, in this little collection there is also a notebook of sketches of Claudia Hartert, Ernst Hartert’s wife, for his book ‘On the birds of the islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire’.  The little volume contains sketches of eggs and birds, as well as bird feathers.


This collection was sent to us by the Dutch Art Museum in the Hague, who found the package when clearing out their basement.  Quite how or why the letters Walter wrote and Hartert’s sketches ended up in Holland is entirely unknown.









This blog is written by Daisy Cunynghame from our Archives team to mark Explore Your Archive Week 2013 (


The scientific work the Museum has done is found throughout the Archives, for over 250 years the Museum has been researching and studying, and the results of that are held here.

By delving into the Archives you can see that the Natural History Museum was far more involved scientifically in both world wars than might have been thought.










In the First World War the Museum’s science departments played a significant part in the war effort, with 14 Government departments consulting the Museum on a wide range of issues, from solutions to crustaceans damaging telegraph cables and fungus destroying army tents, to examining German Zepellin propellers to determine their composition. Museum staff provided advice on the safest ways to remove bullets from human bodies, information on possible alternatives to oil and food sources and the prevention of dysentery and contamination of foodstuffs. What information was supplied to the Admiralty ‘in relation to white mice in regard to certain matters connected with submarines’ can only be guessed at!  






Lazarus Fletcher, the Director of the Museum, took it upon himself to send samples of whale meat to various senior government officials, with the idea of persuading them of the usefulness of this alternative food source. Although one responded that ‘I had two or three people to dinner on Monday night and I feasted them royally on whale, for I think a joint of whale is really a royal dish’, other responses that it was ‘oily’, ‘tough’ and ‘unappetising’ were less positive, and the suggestion was never taken up.


Entomologists worked on eradicating ticks and mites, mosquitoes, and flies in the trenches, as well as how to protect the envelopes of air-ships and underwater cables from insect attacks.  The Zoology Department contributed important work on safe food to eat and designing camouflage, as well as examining crustaceans on sunken submarines to determine the age of wrecks and producing an ambitious study on using gulls to locate enemy submarines.




Gulls were successfully trained to identify submerged submarines by circling above them – though they couldn’t be trained to distinguish between a Fritz and a Tommy sub. While this particular study did not quite produce the desired result, it is a great example of just how creative Museum scientists were during the war.


Botany gave advice to the military on such topics as using moss for surgical dressings, suitable food for humans and horses in foreign climes, and the right timber to use for airplanes and air-ships.   






The geological department seems to have been the department which turned itself over the most completely to war work. Staff provided advice to Government on where to drill for water and oil, based on fossil specimens. One of the enquiries received was to determine how to build and maintain cement platforms in salt water and so enabling the easy docking of naval vessels.


But perhaps their most important work was in relation to the battle-grounds themselves, where they provided information and guidance on the geology of the terrain.








Across the Museum staff received letters from soldiers – from those who suddenly found themselves in charge of a paddock of goats or 200 camels and needed urgent advice, to those suffering from a scourge of bed lice or fleas. One man sent a selection of mosquitoes, adding that 'they were done to death with such violence they'll be difficult to identify'.


This blog is written by Daisy Cunynghame from our Archives team to mark Explore Your Archive Week 2013 (




On the opening of the Natural History Museum in 1881 the Central Hall was reserved for species type characters of the principal subject areas of the museum with the purpose of, as Richard Owen put it, ‘forming an Epitome of Natural History’.


The concept of a type museum, or Index Museum as it came to be known, had been with Owen, the Natural History Museum Superintendent, for many years.  He had attempted in his previous post as curator of the Royal College of Surgeon’s Hunterian Museum to bring this to fruition – buying many non-surgical specimens for display, including a wide variety of mammals, and trying for a time in the 1840s to canvass the powers that be to remove the zoological specimens from the British Museum to his own Hunterian.  His central display there contained as many fossil mammals as it did surgical specimens, moving the focus of the museum and its exhibits from a practical medical one to a more general study of comparative anatomy.


On moving over to what was then the Natural History Departments of the British Museum, Owen focused on this perceived need for this Index Museum from the very outset – his first report to the Trustees in 1859 to propose a Natural History Museum separate from the Bloomsbury museum contained a circular hall in the centre, for the exhibition of type specimens.  ‘Such a building, besides giving accommodation to the several classes of natural history objects…should include a hall for a distinct department, adapted to convey an elementary knowledge of all divisions of natural history, the large proportion of public visitors not being specially conversant with any particular subject’.  His design by 1879 showed the Central Hall much as it is today with its series of bays, but with each bay devoted to a different subject area (mollusca, botany, minerals, fish etc.)


This period of development was at the peak of the age of the museums – a period of about 50 years when the majority of national and provincial museums were established.  Owen himself, although a key player in this, was in many ways quite old fashioned in his approach.  His emphasis on this Index Museum, at least in part, stemmed from this. His vision of a museum was a somewhat dated one: he desired that his new Natural History Museum would follow the old model where every specimen was on display and the whole museum was an exhibit, and therefore a key reference area would be needed to orient visitors and summarise the complex and voluminous array of collections on display.  His originals plans showed a huge 10 acre museum (only 5 acres of land were finally purchased).  Other members of staff followed the lead of some of the more modern institutions, and believed that only a select sample of material should be on display, the rest kept in a reference section only available to researchers. With this arrangement, there would be no need of Owen’s desired Index Museum.


The Keepers of the various scientific departments wrote reports to the Trustees in 1880 arguing in favour of this segregation of research and display, and against the setting up of a separate Index Museum.  Their other key arguments were that more funds for a central display might mean less money for scientific research and display in the individual departments, and that Owen would take all the prime exhibits from the departments for his own exhibits.  Owen in turn wrote to the Trustees attacking these arguments and the scheme went ahead, largely by force of the old man’s will alone.

When the Natural History Museum, after a gestation period of over 20 years, was finally opened in 1881, Owen was 77 years old.  He had drawn up extensive plans for the museum generally, and in great detail for the Central Hall, having gone as far as coming up with a list of specimens and writing a guidebook for the proposed displays.  However he was no longer in a position to carry through many of his grand plans, and stayed on as Superintendent only until 1883 when the move of the last of the mammal specimens to South Kensington was completed.  He was replaced in his position by William Flower who had, like Owen, previously been the curator of the Hunterian Museum.  As such, Flower had considerable experience of curating and managing zoological exhibits.  He was given the new title of Museum Director.




The role of Director at this point though was very limited. Each Keeper had full control, not just of the scientists in their respective departments, but also over the structure and contents of all displays.  The only area which the Director had effective sway over was the central Index Museum, and Flower made the most of this opportunity.  The Trustees had wanted to give up on the type museum idea after Owen’s retirement, but Flower ensured that this did not happen.  He was in many ways much more forward-looking in museum layout and exhibition design than his predecessor. 





He was really one of the first to address the need for distinctly separate exhibition and study collections, the need to severely limit the amount of material on display for ease of understanding of the general public and the need to, as he put it, use specimens to illustrate labels, rather than labels illustrating (often rows and rows of only marginally different) specimens.  He stated that ‘The Curator’s business will be quite as much to keep useless specimens out of the museum as to acquire those that are useful’.



So William Flower was left to select and install the specimens following Owen’s grand Index Museum design.  Under his tutelage however, it changed from an index to the main collections in the Museum, into something more like an introduction to the concepts and principles of natural history, covering topics like evolution, albinism, natural disasters, seasonal colour adaptation, flight and domestication of animals.  There was also a series of temporary exhibitions related to specific anniversaries or events, on topics such as animals in the bible and Darwinism.  Flower was able to persuade the Treasury to supply funding for scientifically trained assistants who were not on the scientific staff of the Museum to work on the Central Hall collections – the first time staff were employed at the Museum purely for the managing and arrangement of exhibitions, rather than research work.


The Index Museum continued to grow and develop in the decades after William Flower, although it had faded out by the end of the Second World War.  After this point the bays of Central Hall contained a series of temporary exhibits, along with some specimens which were retained by popular request, while the centre held a series of large displays – originally a sperm whale, then a number of different elephant displays, and finally from 1979 onwards the Diplodocus which is still there today. 







This blog is written by Daisy Cunynghame from our Archives team to mark Explore Your Archive Week 2013 (


Amongst the Museum Archives are some little gems of Antarctic history, from applications of aspiring Antarctic explorers and a food list for 46 men for three years with Discovery (costing a grand total of £4946), to exquisite pencil drawings by Edward Wilson and letters from Kathleen Scott to the Museum after her husband’s tragic death.











Besides being an obvious recipient for material collected on the Discovery (1901-04) and Terra Nova (1910-12) expeditions, the Natural History Museum had a direct connection with Discovery – the Keeper of Botany, George Murray, became the Scientific Director, going with the ship as far as Cape Town to provide scientific training for the officers and crew.




It is amongst Murray’s papers that a number of Antarctic-related items, including the food list and Wilson’s drawings, can be found. An introduction to the list reveals that the food had been selected for its variety, and that most of the meat would be purchased in Australia, where the Discovery was to stop off on the way south. In fact, a quarter of the total budget was to be spent on meat alone, ranging from roast beef, roast veal and ‘duck and green peas’, to brawn, compressed mutton and mock turtle stew. A number of unfamiliar items are listed – Viking milk (obviously different from the Nestlé milk it precedes), Plasmon, Somatose, Tropon – while champagne, Devonshire cream and port are included under ‘Medical Comforts’. Even in this basic list of foodstuffs, Edwardian hierarchies are apparent – everyone had the same honey but the crew had separate jam from the officers, and there was ‘Cabin’ and ‘Crew’ tea and coffee.




The drawings by Edward Wilson are a particular gem because the Archives (aside from the Photo Collection) are largely textual rather than visual in content. Wilson was Discovery’s Assistant Surgeon and zoologist. One of Scott’s core men, he went on the march to the then furthest point south in 1902, and to the pole itself in 1911. He died on the return journey in blizzard-bound tent with Scott, just 12 miles from the next food depot.


The nine pencil sketches we have in the Archives are just a taster of his artistic output, much of which is now at the Scott Polar Research Institute. They depict coastal features of South Trinidad, an uninhabited island off Brazil, where the ship stopped on its way south. The detail is remarkable, capturing rock formations and seabirds in a few graphite lines.


The items in the Archives are just a small proportion of the Museum’s Antarctic holdings. Though eclectic, they make their own unique contribution to the history of the Museum’s role in British Antarctic exploration.




The Library catalogue is available online and more information about the Library & Archives collections can be found via our website

If you wish to view these or any other items, please contact the library to arrange an appointment or 020 7942 5460


Anthropology / Palaeontology



The accidental species : misunderstandings of human evolution / Henry Gee.
Chicago ; London : University of Chicago Press, 2013.
A 3 o GEE




Mantle convection for geologists / Geoffrey F. Davies
Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2011.
P 9 o DAV


Rough-hewn land : a geologic journey from California to the Rocky Mountains / Keith Heyer Meldahl
Berkeley : University of California Press, 2011.
P 75C o MEL


Biologicheskie issledovaniia na Gornotaezhnoĭ Stantsii. Vyp. 12, Interodyktsiia i ratsion,vnoe ispool'zovanie rastitel'nykh resursov Iuzhnoho Primor'ia / V.V. Ostroshenko (otv. red.)
Biological investigations of the Mountain-Taiga Station. Issue 12, Introduction and rational use of the plant resources of South Primorye
Vladivostok : Dal'nauka, 2011.
B 581.9(57) OST


Potentielle natürliche Vegetation Bayerns : Übersichtskarte / Bayerisches Landesamt für Umwelt. [Bearb.: Reiner Suck ...].
Augsburg : Bayerisches Landesamt für Umwelt, 2012.


El discurrir de una ciencia amable y la vigencia de sus objetivos : de Linneo al Código de barras de ADN se pasa por Darwin
Madrid : Real Academia de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, 2012.


Upper Elk Meadows Research Natural Area. Guidebook supplement 43 / Reid Schuller and Cheshire Mayrsohn.
Portland, OR : U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 2013.
B 581.9(795) SCH Q


Plants of the Greater Cape floristic region. The core Cape flora / John Manning and Peter Goldblatt
Pretoria : South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), 2012.
SERIALS S 2305 a


Biotechnological applications of microalgae : biodiesel and value added products / edited by Faizal Bux.
Boca Raton : CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, 2013.


Insect molecular genetics : an introduction to principles and applications / Marjorie A. Hoy

Amsterdam : Academic Press, 2013

E 10E o HOY


Physiological systems in insects / Marc J. Klowden

Amsterdam : Academic Press, 2013

E 13 o KLO

Insect resources of Xiao Wutai Mountain
Xiaowutaishan Kunchong Ziyuan / Xu Zhihua
[S.l. : s.n.], 2013.
E 73H q XU Vol.1
E 73H q XU Vol.2


Catalogue of Palaearctic Coleoptera. Volume 8, Curculionoidea II / I. Löbl & A. Smetana (eds.)
Leiden, Boston : Brill, 2013.




Charles Darwin : de la creación a la evolución / Francisco Pelayo.
Tres Cantos Nivola [2008]
L 9A o PEL


Mechanisms of life history evolution : the genetics and physiology of life history traits and trade-offs / edited by Thomas Flatt, Andreas Heyland.
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2011.
L 9D o FLA


In search of mechanisms : discoveries across the life sciences / Carl F. Craver and Lindley Darden.
Chicago ; London : University of Chicago Press, 2013.
L 10A o CRA


Scale, heterogeneity, and the structure and diversity of ecological communities / Mark E. Ritchie
Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2010.
L 10A o RIT


Evolution, development, & the predictable genome / David L. Stern
Greenwood Village, Colo. : Roberts and Co. Publishers, 2011.
L 10H o STE


The balance of nature and human impact / edited by Klaus Rohde
Cambridge, UK : Cambridge University Press, 2013.
L 66A o ROH


Green equilibrium : the vital balance of humans & nature / Christopher Wills.
Oxford, UK : Oxford University Press, 2013.
L 66A o WIL


Antarctica : global science from a frozen continent / edited by David W. H. Walton.
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, c2013.
L 71 o WAL


Guardians of the Heath : a chronicle of battles fought by the Blackheath Society from 1937 to 2008 / Felix Barker and Tony Aldous
[London] : Blackheath Society, 2009.
L 72 Aa o BAR


Shifting sands : Blakeney Point and the environmental imagination / Andy Stoddart
[Marston Gate : printed by, 2013].
L 72Aa o STO


Flora i fauna Belogo Moria : illiustrirovannyĭ atlas / pod redaktsieĭ A.B. TSetlina, A.Ė. Zhadan, N.N. Marfenina
Moskva : MGU, 2010.
L 72Q o TSE


The windward road : adventures of a naturalist on remote Caribbean shores / Archie Carr
Gainesville : University Press of Florida, 2013.
L 75F o CAR


A terra dos Aruã : uma história ecológica do arquipelágo de Marajó / Pedro L. B. Lisboa.
Belém : Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, 2012.
L 76D q LIS


Marine biology : a very short introduction / Philip V. Mladenov.
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2013.
L 87 o MLA


Adaptive diversification / Michael Doebeli.
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 2011.
L 93 o DOE


Predictive species and habitat modeling in landscape ecology : concepts and applications / C. Ashton Drew, Yolanda F. Wiersma, Falk Huettmann (eds.)
New York : Springer, 2011.
L 93 o DRE


Shaping ecology : the life of Arthur Tansley / Peter Ayres.
Chichester, West Sussex, UK ; Malden, Mass. : Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.
L 96A o TAN


Natural History Museum book of animal records / Mark Carwardine
Richmond Hill, Ontario : Firefly Books 2013.



Minerals, collecting, and value across US-Mexico border / Elizabeth Emma Ferry
Bloomington ; Indianapolis : Indiana University Press, 2013.
M 553(72+73) FER



Ivory, horn and blood : behind the elephant and rhinoceros poaching crisis / Ronald Orenstein
Richmond Hill, Ontario ; Buffalo, New York : Firefly Books, 2013.
Z 10J o ORE


Livro vermelho da fauna brasileira ameaçada de extinção editores : Angelo Barbosa Monteiro Machado, Gláucia Moreira Drummond, Adriano Pereira Paglia.
Brasília MMA 2008.
Z 76D q BAR Vol.1
Z 76D q BAR Vol.2


Catálogo de los moluscos continentales de Colombia / Edgar L. Linares & Mónica L. Vera.
Bogotá : Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, 2012.

Field guide to the amphibians of the Eastern Arc Mountains and coastal forests of Tanzania and Kenya = Amfibia wa Milima ya Tao la Mashariki na Misitu ya Pwani ya Tanzania na Kenya / Elizabeth B. Harper ... [et al.] ; with Kiswahili translation by Imani Swilla
Nairobi : Camerapix, 2010.







This blog is written by Daisy Cunynghame from our Archives team to mark Explore Your Archive Week 2013 (



Before the internet, television, and even the radio, the Natural History Museum was publicised to the world through the printed press.  The Archives hold newspaper cuttings about the Museum from the 1830s right up to 2013, and they’re a great way of finding out more about the Museum – both how we really were, and how the media portrayed us.


What is now sometimes called citizen science was then, via the newspapers, a way of reaching out to people – from publishing a list of particular specimens we were short of, in the hope we’d get some opportune laymen to help, to asking those who stole bits of a giant squid which had been washed ashore if they wouldn’t mind terribly returning the pieces to us.


The newspapers would often track significant collecting expeditions all over the world – there would be regular articles each week about the progress they were making, the specimens they were finding, and any exciting near-death experiences.












Also quite a few clarifications abounded – there were rumours that we were willing to pay £1000 for a common flea, or as much again for the intact ash of a cigarette, and even more for a whole kingfisher nest.  The press was the ideal way to dispel these myths (which sometimes the papers had created themselves in the first place) before we were inundated with smoked cigarettes and fleas.



Senior scientists, and the Director himself, definitely had no qualms about wading into the fray – having extended letters page debates with creationists, deconstructing the myths of sea serpents, and clarifying with one man who described both telepathy and radium as ‘unknowable magic’.

















One of the early 20th century Museum Directors, E Ray Lankester, had a regular column in the Daily Telegraph titled ‘Science from an easy chair’, which discussed issues of the day and explained evolution, extinction and other scientific topics on behalf of the Museum.  And, flipping the coin, when Lankester felt he had been forced into retirement he used the letters pages of the broadsheets and tabloids to fight his own corner.


The press also showed another side to the Museum – from the 19th century warden fired when he was caught drinking a professor’s gin, to the quarrymen who unearthed some fossils and were found by Museum scientists to be using them as cricket balls, the uncouth English ‘roughs’ damaging the railings, and the ‘flirting flappers’ who apparently took to congregating in the Museum’s Central Hall.


The Library catalogue is available online and more information about the Library & Archives collections can be found via our website

If you wish to view these or any other items, please contact the library to arrange an appointment or 020 7942 5460



Anthropology / Palaeontology



Cave art / Jean Clottes
New York : Phaidon Press, 2011, (2008 printing).
A 3A q CLO


Early hominin paleoecology / Matt Sponheimer, Julia A. Lee-Thorp, Kaye E. Reed, Peter S. Ungar (eds.)
Boulder, Colorado : University Press of Colorado, [2013].
A 3 o SPO



Geology and landscapes of Scotland / Con Gillen.
Edinburgh : Dunedin Academic Press, 2013.
P 72Ab q GIL


Biomolecular palaeontology : Lyell Meeting volume / edited by G. Eglinton and R.L.F. Kay.
[Swindon] : Natural Environment Research Council, 1994.
P 89 q EGL


Grzimek's animal life encyclopedia : extinction / Norman MacLeod, editor in chief ; J. David Archibald and Phillip S. Levin, advisory editors.
Detroit ; London : Gale, c2013.
P GM (031)56 GRZ Vol.1
P GM (031)56 GRZ Vol.2


Diversity of fish otoliths, past and present / Dirk Nolf
Brussels : Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, 2013.


Svensk Flora : Fanerogamer och kärlkryptogamer / Th. O. B. N. Krok och S. Almquist
Stockholm : Liber AB, 2013.


Flora del Valle de Tehuacán-Cuicatlán. Fascículo 108, Zygophyllaceae / Rosalinda Medina-Lemos
Flora del Valle de Tehuacán-Cuicatlán. Fascículo 110, Boraginaceae / Erika M. Lira-Charco, Helga Ochoterena
México : Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Biología, 2012.
B 581.9(79P9) SOU


Flora del Valle de Tehuacán-Cuicatlán. Fascículo 109, Mimosaceae / Gloria Andrade M. ... [et al.]
México : Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Biología, 2012.
B 581.9(79P9) SOU


Flora del Bajío y de regiones adyacentes. Fasciculo complementario XXVIII, Epífitas vasculares del Bajío y de regiones adyacentes / Jerzy Rzedowski y Graciela Calderón de Rzedowski (eds.)
Pátzcuaro, México : Instituto de Ecología 2012.
B 581.9(79P9) FLO


Flora del Bajío y de regiones adyacentes. Fasciculo complementario XXVII, Le diversidad vegetal del estado de Guanajuato, México / Jerzy Rzedowski y Graciela Calderón de Rzedowski (eds.)
Pátzcuaro, México : Instituto de Ecología, 2011.
B 581.9(79P9) FLO


Flore du Gabon. Volume 42, Aizoaceae, Aristolochiaceae, Gnetaceae, Hypericaceae, Lecythidaceae, Pedaliaceae, Polygalaceae, Turneraceae, Xyridaceae / Marc S. M. Sosef (ed.) ... [et al.]
Weikersheim : Margraf Publishers : Leiden : Backhuys Publishers, 2011.
B 581.9(672.1) L.P.


Flore du Gabon. Volume 40, Apodanthaceae, Balanopharaceae, Campanulaceae, Caricaceae, Hyacinthaceae, Hydroleaceae, Lobeliaceae, Menyanthaceae, Nymphaeaceae, Pontederiaceae, Typhaceae / Marc S. M. Sosef (ed.) ... [et al.]
Weikersheim : Margraf Publishers : Leiden : Backhuys Publishers, 2010.
B 581.9(672.1) L.P.


Suomen limasienet / Marja Härkönen, Elina Varis ; kuvat: Harri Arkkio ... [et al.].
Helsinki : Finnish Museum of Natural History, 2012.
SERIALS S 1484 b


Satakunnan kasvit = Flora of Satakunta, province in western Finland / Juha Suominen
Helsinki : Luonnontieteellinen keskusmuseo, 2013.
SERIALS S 1484 b


Enciclopedia ilustrada de los cactus y otras suculentas: descripción de las especies, hábitat y cuidados de cultivo. vol. 4 [<Mammillaria pectinifera>] Antonio Gómez Sánchez
Madrid: Mundi Prensa, 2013.
B 582.4P78 GOM Q


Opredelitel' semeĭstv i rodov palearkticheskikh dvukrylykh nasekomykh podotriada Nematocera po Lichinkam / M.G. Krivosheina.
Moskva : Tovarishchestvo nauchnykh izdaniĭ KMK, 2012.


Bees in the city : the urban beekeepers' handbook / Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum
London : Guardian Books, 2011.


Field Guide to the Damselflies of New Guinea = Buku panduan lapangan capung jarum untuk wilayah New Guinea / V.J. Kalkman, A.G. Orr ; transl. Henk van Mastrigt, Evie Warikar
Oegstgeest : Nederlandse Vereniging voor Libellenstudie, 2013.


Atlas of stored-product insects and mites / David W. Hagstrum ... [et al.].
St. Paul, Minn. : AACC International, 2013.


The cicadas of Thailand. Volume 2 : taxonomy and sonic ethology / Michel Boulard
Manchester : Siri Scientific Press, 2013.


Island life, or, the phenomena and causes of insular faunas and floras : including a revision and attempted solution of the problem of geological climates / by Alfred Russel Wallace ; with a foreword by David Quammen ; and an introduction with commentary by Lawrence R. Heaney
Chicago ; London : University of Chicago Press, [2013].
L 8 o WAL


Evolution in a toxic world : how life responds to chemical threats / Emily Monosson
Washington, DC : Island Press, 2012.
L 10F o MON


Limnology of the Red Lake, Romania : an interdisciplinary study / Gheorghe Romanescu, Cristian Constantin Stoleriu, Andrei Enea
Dordrecht : Springer, [2013].
L 72N o ROM


The Mediterranean Sea : its history and present challenges / Stefano Goffredo, Zvy Dubinsky (editors)
Heidelberg ; London : Springer Verlag 2013.
L 72P q GOF


Taperinha : Histórico das pesquisas de história natural realizadas em uma fazenda da região de Santarém, no Pará, nos séculos XIX e XX / Nelson Papavero, William L. Overal (organizadores)
Belém : Museu Emílio Goeldi, 2011.
L 76D q PAP


Letters from the desert : the correspondence of Flinders and Hilda Petrie / edited by Margaret Drower.
Park End Place, Oxford : Aris and Phillips, c2004.
L 96A o FLI


Science editors' handbook / editors, Pippa Smart, Hervé Maisonneuve, Arjan Polderman
Redruth : EASE, 2013.
L 98 q SMA


Marketing your library's electronic resources : a how-to-do-it manual / [Marie R. Kennedy and Cheryl LaGuardia].
London : Facet Publishing, 2013.


The future of the past / Natural History Museum
London : Natural History Museum, [2013].




Dangerous neighbors : volcanoes and cities / Grant Heiken ; edited by Jody Heiken ; illustrations by Julie Wilbert.
Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2013.
M 551.21 HEI


Too hot to touch : the problem of high-level nuclear waste / William M. Alley and Rosemarie Alley.
Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2013.
M 628.39 ALL


Ornithology (Tring)

The Birds of Bute : A bird atlas and local avifauna
Rothesay : Buteshire Natural History Society : Scottish Ornithologists' Club, 2012.
ORNITHOLOGY 72Ab/4 FOR                  


The Birds of Eigg
Isle of Eigg : Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, 2013.
ORNITHOLOGY 72Ab/1 CHE                  


Des hommes et des oiseaux : une histoire de la protection des oiseaux / Valérie Chansigaud ; préface d'Allain Bougrain-Dubourg.
Paris : Delachaux et Niestlé, [2012]
ORNITHOLOGY 87 CHA                      


Ecology, conservation, and management of grouse / Brett K. Sandercock, Kathy Martin, and Gernot Segelbacher, editors
Berkeley ; London : University of California, 2011.
ORNITHOLOGY 18(2) SAN                   


Extraordinary birds : essays and plates of rare book selections from the American Museum of Natural History library / by Paul Sweet.
New York : Sterling, 2013.
ORNITHOLOGY 3 SWE                       


Ostrero canario : historia y biología de la primera especie de la fauna española extinguida por el hombre / Arturo Valledor de Lozoya
[Madrid] : Editorial Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente, [2013].
ORNITHOLOGY 88 VAL                      


Population demography of northern spotted owls / Eric D. Forsman ... [et al.]
Berkeley ; London : University of California, 2011.
ORNITHOLOGY 18(4) FOR                   


Type specimens of birds in the American Museum of Natural History. Part 11, Passeriformes : Parulidae, Drepanididae, Vireonidae, Icteridae, Fringillinae, Carduelinae, Estrildidae, and Viduinae / Mary LeCroy, Department of Vertebrate Zoology (Ornithology), American Museum of Natural History.
New York, NY : American Museum of Natural History, [2013]
ORNITHOLOGY 97 AME                      


Von wegen Spatzenhirn! [Texte imprimé] / [Immanuel ] Birmelin.
Because of the Bird brain! The amazing abilities of birds
Stuttgart : Kosmos, 2012.


Congresso Brasileiro de Ornitologia : 29 de Junho a 04 de Julho de 2008 : Palmas, Tocantins : "A Ornitologia  no Cerrado e Ecótonos do Brasil" : Livro de Resumos
Palmas : Universidade Federal do Tocantins, 2008.
ORNITHOLOGY 76D CON                    
The encyclopedia of North American birds / Michael Vanner.
New York : Barnes & Noble Books, ; 2003.


Preliminary Bird List of the State of Mato Grosso / compiled by Paulo Boute & Braulio Carlos
Cuiabá, Brazil : Carlini & Caniato, 2007


XVII Congresso Brasileiro de Ornitologia : Biogeografia das Aves da Mata Atlântica : Estado do Conhecimento, Atual e Expectativas para o Avanço Científico : Aracruz, ES, 28 de junho a 03 de julho de 2009 / Organizadores do Livro, José Eduardo Simon... [et al.]
São Paulo : Tec Art Editora, 2009.
ORNITHOLOGY 76D CON                    



Guide Delachaux des traces d'animaux / Lars-Henrik Olsen
Paris : Delachaux et Niestlé, 2013.
Z 10F o OLS


Ecology of faunal communities on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands / K. Venkataraman, C. Raghunathan, C. Sivaperuman (eds.)
Berlin ; New York : Springer, 2012.
Z 73F o VEN


The birds of America / John James Audubon
London : Natural History Museum, 2012.
Z 75 q AUD


Walter Potter's curious world of taxidermy / by P.A. Morris ; edited by Joanna Ebenstein.
London : Constable, 2013.
Z 82 o MOR


Parazity i bolezni ryb chernogo i azovskogo moreĭ. II, Poluprophodnye i Presnovodnye ryby = Parasites and diseases of the fishes in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Vol. 2 / A.V. Gaevskaya
Sevastopol : EKOSI-Gidrofizika, 2013.


Discovery of Australia's fishes : a history of Australian ichthyology to 1930 / Brian Saunders.
Collingwood, Vic. : CSIRO Pub., 2012.


Badgerlands : the twilight world of Britain's most enigmatic animal / by Patrick Barkham
London : Granta, 2013.