The project is a broad collaboration of faculty and staff from the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Visit to learn more.

The Ward Project is focused on the period from just after the American Civil War to around 1900 when:

  1. science education began to flourish and incorporate the pivotal insights of Charles Darwin,
  2. the first natural history museums opened in North America and enabled the public to experience nature worldwide, and
  3. the modern-day conservation movement began.

This project grew out of the realization that the third largest natural history museum in North America in the late-1800’s was at the University of Rochester and the museum was closely affiliated with Ward’s Natural Science Establishment, a supplier of natural history materials for colleges, universities and museums worldwide. Many relict specimens remain from the University of Rochester Natural History Museum in the Departments of Biology and Earth & Environmental Sciences, and the correspondence, records, and catalogs associated with the museum and Ward’s Natural Science Establishment are housed in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

One goal is to share these materials both online and via 3-D printing. A selection of specimens from our collections have been scanned and can be downloaded.

Another goal of this Project is to learn how the Cabinets at other institutions fared over the last one-hundred-plus years: Do the materials still exist? Are they on display or used in the classroom? If your institution has specimens or records, we hope to hear from you.