From 1885 until about 1904, a Department of Comparative Anatomy existed within the United States National Museum. This department (after 1897 a division in the Department of Biology) was responsible for the preparation and care of the osteological specimens of the museum. From the early days of the museum collections, separate bone catalogs were kept, distinct from the other specimen catalogs. In addition, a series of vertebrate skulls and skeletons were exhibited in the main hall of the Smithsonian building, and much additional material was in storage.
When the collections were moved from the Smithsonian building to the Museum in 1883, a proposal was made that a department of comparative anatomy should be set up. Although Frederick William True and Frederic Augustus Lucas were listed as curator and assistant in such a department as early as 1883, formal organization of the department first came in 1885.
Frederic A. Lucas joined the Smithsonian Institution in 1882 as an osteological preparator and became assistant curator to True in 1887. True was the first full curator and served from 1885 to 1890, when Frank Baker became honorary curator. In 1893, Lucas became curator and remained in that capacity until he left the Smithsonian in 1904. Following Lucas' departure, the division remained without a curator until it was gradually incorporated into the other zoological divisions.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 203, United States National Museum. Division of Comparative Anatomy, Divisional Records
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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