Interior of Portland Society of Natural History showing shell display, 1927

Contributed by Maine Historical Society

Interior of Portland Society of Natural History showing shell display, 1927

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Conchologists are people who study shells. Dr. Jesse W. Mighels (1795–1861) was a founding member of the Maine Institute of Natural Sciences in 1836, and the Portland Society of Natural History in 1843. Mighels and Portland Society of Natural History (PSNH) member William Wood explored Casco Bay in the 1840s to 1850s, adding 200 mollusk species to the Bay’s previous 15 known species. The PSNH received Mighels’ collection of 6,000-10,000 specimens when he moved to Ohio prior to 1854.

The PSNH rebuilt the shell and fossil collections after the 1854 fire, only to lose them once again in the Great Fire of 1866. Relying on donations, the PSNH again amassed shell and fossil collections. The 1889 report noted 4,072 shell and 91 coral specimens on display at the PSNH.

Charles Fuller worked at PSNH from 1859 to 1893 as Keeper of the Cabinets. He donated his entire marine invertebrate collection after the 1866 fire. Edward S. Morse, PSNH curator, was also a conchologist, finding and naming a Maine land Snail, Striatura milium (Morse). Arthur H. Norton, PSNH curator from 1905 to 1943 was interested in all types of biology, and also worked to build the organization’s shell collections.

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About This Item

  • Title: Interior of Portland Society of Natural History showing shell display, 1927
  • Creation Date: 1927
  • Subject Date: 1927
  • Location: Portland, Cumberland County, ME
  • Media: Photographic print
  • Local Code: 901B4F4
  • Object Type: Image

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For more information about this item, contact:

Maine Historical Society
485 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-1822 x230

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