200 Years. 200 Stories. Story 153: “Saving our Nation’s Treasures ”

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fossil lower jaw of an American mastodon
The partial lower jaw of an American mastodon (Mammut americanum) from the Thomas Jefferson Fossil Collection. This specimen was collected by William Clark for Thomas Jefferson in 1807. The nickel in the lower right is shown for scale.

Saving our Nation’s Treasures

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is lucky to have devoted supporters who have helped to keep our scientific collections in excellent condition! One of the programs that has provided support for Academy collections is Save America’s Treasures. Save America’s Treasures was launched in 1998 through a partnership between the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the U.S. National Park Service. The goal of this program is to restore nationally significant historic sites and special collections across the country.

Save America’s Treasures grants have helped the Academy to preserve scientifically and historically important parts of our specimen collections. Thanks to Save America’s Treasures, we have upgraded collections care for three of the most significant collections—the Lewis and Clark Herbarium, the Titian Peale Butterfly Collection, and the Thomas Jefferson Fossil Collection.

Founding Father Thomas Jefferson was an early champion of paleontology. In Jefferson’s era, fossils represented compelling scientific evidence of the great vitality of the North American continent. Among Jefferson’s collection were fossils of the American mastodon, giant ground sloth, and woolly mammoth! Jefferson’s fossils were deposited at the Academy in the mid-1800s by the American Philosophical Society and formally gifted to the Academy in the 1980s. In 2002, a grant from Save America’s Treasures allowed Academy staff to re-house all of the Jefferson fossils in an upgraded storage facility, document the condition of the specimens, and create an educational website. Save America’s Treasures helped us keep Jefferson’s fossil collection in top condition for historians and scientists for years to come!

View our Thomas Jefferson Fossil Collection online exhibit.

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