Archives Hub Contributors
University of Cambridge: Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
The Sedgwick Museum was founded upon the 17th century collection of Dr John Woodward (FRS) that he bequeathed to the University (1728) and with it the scientific discipline of Geology made its first formal appearance in England. With that collection (9400 rocks, minerals and fossils – still intact today) came the original drawings and text of Agostino Scilla, who wrote one of the most important 17th century books explaining the true meaning of fossils as artefacts representing the remains of once living things.
In addition, Woodward’s own books and associated writings on the Earth were acquired. Since that time some of the most important developments and advances in Geology (more commonly referred to as the Earth Sciences today) have been focused on Cambridge, through the work of a succession of Woodwardian Professors such as John Michel, Adam Sedgwick, Thomas McKenny Hughes, John Marr and Harry Whittington (currently held by David Hodell).
The Sedgwick Museum, as it now stands, opened in 1904 by King Edward VII. The architect was Sir Thomas Graham Jackson, and serves as a memorial to Adam Sedgwick who, in the nineteenth century, was the first to begin serious acquisition of specimens for the Museum. The Sedgwick is now responsible for around 1.5 million fossil, rock and mineral specimens from around the world, encompassing more than 500 million years of Earth's history. These include the 2500 rocks, minerals and fossils collected by Charles Darwin on his 1831–1836 voyage aboard HMS Beagle.
Over the centuries the Sedgwick Museum has unobtrusively accumulated a vast archive of documentary material that charts the work of key scientists who have worked and contributed fundamentally to our understanding of the Earth (in its very broadest sense). The archive collections fall into several categories: records relating to museum administration, those concerning specimen collections, and those documenting projects of the museum (major exhibitions and gallery display). Records include original catalogues, correspondence, and reports. There are also the personal and professional papers of geologists, palaeontologists and mineralogists, and members of the Department of Earth Sciences, as well as a substantial collection of artwork. The legacy records of the Sedgwick Club, which began in 1880, are also part of the collections.
Address: Downing Street Cambridge CB2 3EQ Tel: 01223 333 456