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July-August 2013

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The University of Michigan Mineral Collection, Ann Arbor

The mineral collection at the University of Michigan is among the oldest and finest in the Great Lakes region. The collection was initiated in 1838 and reached its peak size and prestige in the 1920s and 1930s under the care of Prof. Edward H. Kraus. During this time, contributions to the collection came from many important historical figures in U.S. mineralogy. Particularly prominent were those associated with the state of Michigan. A number of the specimens are pictured in the classic text Mineralogy by Kraus, Hunt, and Ramsdell (Kraus and Hunt 1920, 1928; Kraus, Hunt, and Ramsdell 1936, 1951, 1959), all professors at the University of Michigan. No other mineralogical collection, save that of the A. E. Seaman Museum at Michigan Technological University, is more important historically to Michigan. Although the collection continued to be an important part of the teaching and research efforts of the then-separate Department of Geology and Department of Mineralogy (combined in 1961 and recently renamed the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences) during the latter half of the twentieth century, the proper curation of the collection has been neglected. Currently, the university has initiated an effort to inventory the collection as a first step in determining its future. This article is a summary of the results of that inventory.

Dr. Christopher J. Stefano is a Research Fellow in Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan and has been interested in preservation of museum collections since his graduate studies at the University of Michigan.

Kathy Erwin was the former curator of the Coville Photographic Collection in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and assistant curator of graphic arts at the Detroit Institute of Arts; she is currently a volunteer curator at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Rodney C. Ewing is the Edward H. Kraus Distinguished University Professor at the University of Michigan. He also serves on the Board of Governors of the Gemological Institute of America, on the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and as chair of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.

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