Raw's private collection note

Dr. James Adams jadams at EM.DALTONSTATE.EDU
Wed Sep 25 16:46:01 CDT 2002


         Okay, I couldn't stay out of this one.

         I'll agree that a private collection that is *kept* private (no
one knows about it and therefore there is no outside access) is virtually a

         However, I'll echo Dan Janzen's sentiments about the *HUGE*
contributions made to science by private collectors and collections.  There
is nothing intrinsically wrong with an individual maintaining even a
sizable private collection, as long as the individual makes it known to
workers what he has and that the workers have access to it, and as long as
the specimens are appropriately taken care of after the individual
passes.  I have a *large* collection of Lepidoptera -- I get requests all
the time for specimens, which I gladly loan, or more often donate.  I get
frequent visitors who use the collection.  However, if I had placed it all
in an institution, the nearest institution I would feel *safe* putting it
in is over a hundred miles from my home.  How in the world would *I* then
be able to continue working on the taxa I am interested in?  For that
matter, if all my specimens were in a distant institution, then I would
have had extreme difficulty in constructing the website on Georgia Lepidoptera.

         Since I mentioned safety, even large institutional collections are
not immune to disaster.  To suggest that the individual in New Mexico whose
botanical specimens were lost in the fire should have put all his specimens
in an institutional collection *because fire in turn destroyed his
specimens*, well, I can't agree with you there.  Sure, it is awful that the
specimens are now gone.  But if he was actively working with the specimens,
he had every right to hang on to them.  Fire, or flood, or earthquake, or
tornado could just as easily take out a large institutional collection.


James K. Adams
Phone: (706)272-4427
FAX:  (706)272-2235
Visit the Georgia Lepidoptera Website:
Also check out the Southern Lepidopterists' Society new Website:
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