The collections were established jointly by members of the Ohio Historical Society and the Ohio State University. As of today part of the collection is stored at the Ohio Historical Society, while the majority is on permanent loan to the Ohio State University and stored permanently at 1315 Kinnear Rd.
More than 10% of all birds in the collection were collected during the 19th century, from the beginning of a small collection of world birds.
From the beginning...
Shortly after establishment of The Ohio State University, or rather the Ohio agriculture and mechanical college as it was known then, in 1870, a group of faculty members including Prof Edward Orton, Norton S Townshend and James M Wheaton, began to accumulate a research collection of bird skins. They collected many of the birds, and bought others in local and foreign markets, including Russia, Germany and France. They had excellent knowledge of world birds and obtained species which were the most representative of the genera and families to which they belonged.
In 1894 the collection moved to Orton hall (today it houses the School of Earth Sciences). At that time there was neither a professor of botany nor zoology at The Ohio State University; Edward Orton was Professor of geology and president of the university. James S Hine was the first Professor of zoology; he started collecting organisms to teach and established the collections during the 1890s. He collected mainly birds all over the world. Specimens were also collected on expeditions including the National geographic expedition to Alaska.
In 1911 property at 15th and High street was acquired and the Ohio State museum built; part of it today is Sullivant Hall.
In 1925 James S Hine was hired by the Ohio Historical Society as the first curator of natural history. He transferred all museum specimens to the Ohio State museum. The university could use specimens for teaching and research.
Hine built up the collection with several other people who were collecting: Milton B Trautman and Harold Peters of the OH department of agriculture; Lawrence E. Hicks, the first leader of cooperative wildlife unit; Professor Charles F Walker.
In the early 1930s Robert Gosling established the mammal collection.
In 1931 after the death of James S Hine Edward S Thomas was hired as the second curator of natural history. ES Thomas was born in Woodstock OH; his family moved to Columbus, and after graduating from old east high school, he received a degree from law school at OSU. However, he was field naturalist at heart with a main interest in birds; he wrote nature articles for the Columbus dispatch.
David Stansbery, Assist Prof at the department of zoology was hired as the third curator. Carol B Stein was hired as the Assistant curator of natural history.
In 1955 when the collection of fishes moved from the StoneLab at lake Erie to Sullivant Hall, Milton B Trautman was hired as curator of vertebrates. M Trautman and E Thomas shared duties.
In 1956/57 John Condit started volunteering at the museum and his first task was to put a collection of amphibians and reptiles together. The specimens are still housed in the same jars today. J Condit cataloged the mammal and egg collection which is one of the largest egg collections in the USA. In 1970 J Condit was appointed as adjunct faculty and volunteered to curate the collections after the retirement of M Trautman. J Condit stayed with the collections until 2009 when he retired (see news article).
In the mid 1960s the Ohio Historical Society, now Ohio History Connection, built their own museum building at the current location on Velma Avenue. With an agreement with trustees the majority of the zoological collections remained on main campus within the department of zoology and entomology to be used in research and teaching.
In the mid 1980s all biological collections (herbarium, entomology, and zoological collection) moved to their current location on west campus, at 1315 Kinnear Rd. We are still collaborating with the curators at the Ohio History Connection, currently Erin Cashion and Dave Dyers.