The Research Library draws upon its extensive collections of photographs, maps, and archives to document the history of the San Diego Natural History Museum, the oldest scientific institution in southern California (founded in 1874). History projects include narratives of the Museum's expeditions and conservation efforts, the Museum's history in Balboa Park, and biographies of naturalists and staff scientists.
Commissioned by Ellen Browning Scripps in 1908 to paint the wildflowers of California, artist Albert Valentien began a project that was ten years in the execution. In 2000, thanks to the commitment and generosity of Eleanor and Jerome Navarra, the Valentien Project, which would entail photographing, conserving, cataloging, and eventually exhibiting the collection, began.
A digitization project that entails scanning some of the Museum's historical photographs dating to the 1920s and 1930s is currently underway. The photographs document collecting trips in southern California and Baja California, as well as exhibitions and events in the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. Digitizing large fragile maps from our historic map collection is also underway.