Historical letters

SUMMARY: Jean-Bernard Caron, Curator of invertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum, displays a collection of letters from Charles Walcott to William Arthur Parks at the Royal Ontario Museum. (2:31)

Photos of W.A. Parks
DESCRIPTION: Photos of W.A. Parks

"Here we're in front of a series of letters written by Charles Doolittle Walcott to then the professor of geology at the University of Toronto, named Arthur Parks. Parks eventually became director of the Museum of Paleontology at the ROM later."

Letters from Walcott to Parks, from 1905, 1907 and 1909, describing his fossil finds
DESCRIPTION: Letters from Walcott to Parks, from 1905, 1907 and 1909, describing his fossil finds

"This correspondence starts around 1905 and ends around 1925 and shows discussion between Walcott and Parks about Burgess Shale fossils, and other fossils that the two men were interested to study. Here in particular there are two letters that are especially interesting in the context of the discovery of the Burgess Shale. We know that Walcott came to the Burgess Shale to visit the Trilobite Beds first in 1907 and this is a letter from Walcott written in the field while he visited the site in July 1907. A second letter here that is of interest is dated November 27, 1909. Written to Parks, but this time the letter comes from the Smithsonian Institution. And this letter is typed and mentions, in the last paragraph, that he [Walcott] had a few days collecting from the Stephen formation in the vicinity of Field in September and found some very interesting things. Well this is a reference to the discovery of the main Burgess Shale site that is so famous today. And this is probably one of the first letters mentioning the discovery to one of his colleagues."

Photo of Walcott in the field, in camp
DESCRIPTION: Photo of Walcott in the field, in camp

"This is an image of Walcott in the field, writing in his notebook. And potentially the first letter, from 1907, was written in similar conditions."

Christmas cards sent from Walcott to Parks with photos of his field work in the Rockies
DESCRIPTION: Christmas cards sent from Walcott to Parks with photos of his field work in the Rockies

"We also have some elements that were sent that demonstrate the kind of closeness between the two men. And those are actually Christmas cards that were sent to Parks with different shots from the Rocky Mountains on each of these cards. For example, this one from 1918 will show an image of Walcott's camp, somewhere in the Rockies, close to Bow Lake"

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