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Collection Overview

Owen, Richard, 1804-1892.
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Sir Richard Owen Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 1


Consists of selected manuscript material of Sir Richard Owen, the nineteenth-century English biologist and paleontologist who coined the term "dinosaur."

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of an original autograph manuscript, lecture notes, and two letters of Sir Richard Owen. The manuscript is a draft (56 leaves) of Part Two of a "Report on British Fossil Mammalia." It contains some printed notes and many corrections and annotations by the author. Some of the leaves used by Owen were from an earlier manuscript on zoology. The lecture notes were taken by Owen while he was a student in college. In addition, there is a letter, dated 19 December 1866, by Owen to the President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, recommending C. H. Hitchcock of Amherst for study in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons; the second letter (undated), addressed to "My Dear Neighbour," is about fish and plants of the Mediterranean.

Collection Creator Biography:

Owen, Richard, 1804-1892.

Sir Richard Owen was an English biologist, comparative anatomist, and paleontologist. He originally started his education and career by learning medicine, and completed his medical course in St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, where he came under the influence of the eminent surgeon John Abernethy. Owen was the first Hunterian Professor of Comparative Anatomy and Physiology at the Royal College of Surgeons in London from 1836 to 1856. (This was a large collection of human and animal anatomical specimens belonging to John Hunter.) He did pioneer work on parthenogenesis and opposed Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. He produced a vast array of scientific work and famously coined the word "dinosaur." One of Owen's greatest achievements was his campaign to get a new home for the natural specimens in the British Museum. This resulted in the now famous Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London. Owen was knighted in 1884.

Collection History


"Report on "British Fossil Mammalia" and lecture notes were a gift of C. Davies Sherborn, Esq., through Princeton Prof. Scott, in 1919 .

Letter to the President of the Royal College of Surgeons was a gift of Chas. A. Burk in 1909 .

Letter to "My Dear Neighbour" was a gift of Princeton Prof. Bonner in 1966 .

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Sir Richard Owen Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 1