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To the Honorable the Legislature of the State of New York :
The Regents of the University, as Trustees of the State Museum of Natural History, in accordance with the provisions of law, respectfully submit their Thirty-sixth Annual Report.
For a full account of the operations of the Museum for the past year the Trustees beg to refer to the reports of the Director and the State Botanist, which are herewith transmitted.
Owing to the crowded condition of the Museum building the increase of the collections has been made a secondary matter during the past year. The labors of the assistants have been chiefly expended in preparing specimens for exhibition, and in other ways giving to the collections their greatest scientific value.
Whenever the State shall provide the much-needed additional room a great expansion in the number and variety of the specimens can at once be made.
More than 50,000 specimens belonging to the State now in charge of the State Geologist only await space to be transferred to the State Museum. The want of a fire-proof receptacle for these vast and invaluable collections is each year more plainly felt by the Trustees. During the last year one of the largest and most valuable collections in natural history in the country, that of Amherst College, was totally destroyed by fire, owing to the want of a fire-proof building.
The work of the scientific staff in the Museum has been prosecuted with great assiduity and success during the past year. The scientific papers of the members of the staff which have been published in the annual reports of the Legislature have been of great interest to scientific men, and applications for them are received from all parts of the world. It is earnestly recommended that the means to continue these publications may be afforded. In past years there has been much irregularity in the publication of the reports and much disappointment in consequence has been occasioned. There would be a great advantage in a plan by which the scientific reports of the Museum could be printed under the direction of the Museum staff, instead of forming a part of the public printing. But as this would entail a considerable additional expense to the Museum it could only be done by an increase of the annual appropriation for its support.
The work of distributing collections of minerals among the academies of the State, under the authority of a concurrent resolution of the Legislature, has been carried out as fully as seemed to be called for. It has been the policy of the Trustees to give these collections only in cases where there was encouragement to believe that they would be a welcome and a useful addition to the educational equipments of the institution. The Trustees earnestly desire to see the Museum become a great center of educational influence for the State. With this view they seek to devise ways for aiding teachers of science in the institutions of learning throughout the State. They would gladly see the Museum used by them for study, and the staff of the Museum em ployed in aiding these students in fitting themselves for science teachers.
H. R. PIERSON,
Chancellor of the University.
REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR.
ALBANY, December 23, 1882. To the Honorable the Board of Regents of the University of the Slate
of New York: GENTLEMEN — I have the honor to communicate herewith the Annual Report upon the State Museum of Natural History, with some general account of the condition of the collections in the several departments, the additions which have been made thereto, and the work done in the institution during the past year.
The collections of the State Museum are all in good order and condition; and, so far as our facilities permit, are arranged for exhibition to the public. It is, however, impossible to extend these facilities very greatly for want of space in the building. Some additional table cases have been added dnring the past year, taking the place of a small working-room which had been separated from one of the public halls.
During the past month the collections of birds, mammals and skeletons have been removed and carefully cleaned and examined, and replaced in their cases in good order. That portion of the ethnological collection upon the same floor has likewise received careful attention and the perishable portions have been treated in the same manner as the stuffed skins of birds, etc., in order to insure their preservation.
All the alcoholic collections have likewise been examined and put in proper order. The small collections of Radiates and Echinoderms have been examined and rearranged in the cases, with additional specimens of corals obtained during the past year. The work of dusting and cleaning the conchological collection is now in progress, and this will be followed by the cleaning and rearrangement of the mineralogical collection.
It has been impossible to accomplish the proposed plan of presenting a systematic catalogue of the birds and mammals of the State, as intended ; this work is, however, only deferred to a more favorable opportunity. A catalogue of the Unionidæ of the several collections in the State
[Sen. Doc. No. 53.] 2
Museum was presented with the thirty-third report, but this is not yet printed. A catalogue of the land shells of the New York State collection, and of the land shells of the United States, in the State Museum, also of the Corbiculidæ of the New York State collections, were communicated at the same time, together with other important papers, which still remain in the hands of the State printer. It is already well known to your honorable board (though perhaps not so well known to the general public) that copies of these reports, beyond the usual document edition, are printed only by special order of the Legislature; and as no resolutions to this effect were passed for the printing of the thirty-second and thirty-third reports, they were, consequently, only published among the legislative documents. The same conditions have prevented the proper publication of the thirty-fourth report.
In consequence of this state of affairs, the appendices in part, and most of the scientific papers have been withdrawn, and were communicated with the thirty-fifth report. Two papers have been published in full or in abstract, through other channels. The thirty-fifth report is now in the hands of the State printer, and some progress has been made in the work.
This condition of the printing renders the working of the Museum extremely inconvenient and unsatisfactory; while it is very discouraging to all connected with the institution to have no printed evidence of work done during several preceding years. Another serious cause of delay and hindrance in every department of the work of the Museum is the unsettled and uncertain tenure by which we hold and occupy our working rooms. With the return of each successive Legislature the permanency of any existing plans or arrangement is threatened, and consequently it is impossible to carry out any systematic disposition of the material preparatory to working, or any final arrangement of that which has been studied and published, and which has become a part of the permanent collection of the Museum. Not only does this uncertainty hinder the progress of work, but often renders it necessary to do over again work which has been done in a temporary or tentative manner. The evil arising from all this is greater than can be expressed, and the final influences must reach beyond the present, for each succeeding year renders it more and more difficult to bring up the unfinished work of the past. It affects not only the actual collections, it affects erery thing connected with the working of the institution, and modifies every report and its appended scientific papers. It affects in a greater or less degree every one connected with the work. There is a consciousness that the conditions which exist are unfavorable ; and we cannot avoid the belief that a portion of the intel