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The University of Wisconsin Geology Museum (UWGM) historical collection contains original ledgers and documents which chronicle its earliest years of specimen acquisition and exhibits. In 1848, at the first meeting of the Board of Regents, it was decided that the new university needed a cabinet of geological samples from around the state. The Board commissioned Horace Addison Tenney, who later served as Assistant State Geologist, to acquire these specimens and establish the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum.
Other historical records, including photographs, letters, and field notebooks, are housed at the UWGM. The collection also contains geological field and laboratory equipment once used by faculty and staff in the Department of Geoscience (formerly "Geology" from 1848-1967, then "Geology and Geophysics" from 1967-2010). For example, the historical collection contains the field microscope and reprint collection of Dr. Charles Van Hise. Van Hise served as curator of the UWGM in 1888 and later as presidents for the University of Wisconsin, the Geological Society of America, and the National Academy of Sciences.