An unknown journal turns up!

I needed some background information on the fieldworkers who accompanied the Captain Marshall Field Paleontological Expedition to Argentina and Bolivia (CMFPE), including George F. Sternberg, John B. Abbott and others. I asked one of my volunteers, Dick Webb, an avid genealogist, to search for documentation about these men on-line. He found a site that he claimed was chock full of information about Abbott. When I followed the link he sent me, I found many useful documents and pictures. At the bottom of the page, I found a name and contact information for the person who had posted the pictures – a distant relative of Abbott’s. I wrote to compliment her page. I mentioned my project involving her relative and the part he played on the CMFPE. She wrote back right away with some unexpected good news: she had a diary Abbott kept in Argentina. “Would I like it?” she asked!

The journal arrives.
The journal arrives.

A few days later a package arrived at the museum. Inside I found the original journal in perfect condition. I have been so busy with other things that I’ve hardly had any time to read it over. Every now and then, though, I take it out and read a few pages.

The journal with its original cover.
The journal with its original cover.

From what little I know I can tell readers this: the Abbott journal is now one of the best sources I have on the CMFPE. It’s a first-person, daily account of expedition activities. Many entries are rich with details about the weather, their itinerary, the fossils they discovered, etc.

A random journal entry.
A random journal entry.

I look forward to the opportunity to transcribe this journal and incorporate its contents into my book.

Stay tuned.

18 thoughts on “An unknown journal turns up!”

  1. Good to hear from you Paul. Thanks for keeping us informed on your progress. I have not even read the whole journal yet so I am looking forward to the transcription. We are having fun learning more about Uncle Jack’s adventure. Wishing you a great Christmas holiday~Robbyn

    1. The transcription is coming along very slowly, but it is about to get a big shot in the arm from some volunteer labor. I’ll send it along when it’s finished.

      Happy holidays! I doubt I’ll get a present better than this journal.

  2. Isn’t it fun to turn up old history? I have Charles Sternberg’s Life of a Fossil Hunter; the one you cite is his son.

    1. Life of a Fossil Hunter is one of my all-time favorites. That, and your books on Cope/Marsh and Williston, that is!

  3. Paul,

    I am so glad that this found its way to you! While cleaning out my mothers mobile home in Nokomis, Florida, after her passing, my husband found this on top of a tall shelf. If he had not looked for it, I am sure that the new owners would have tossed it. I did go through it on the plane on the way back to Michigan and was amazed at the details he kept. I knew that my wonderful brother and sister in law would know how to proceed with finding the right place for the journal. It was meant to be with you!

    I remember how Uncle Jack was a admired in our family. There was several shoe boxes of arrow heads and fossils in my grandmothers home that we would look at as children. Many of them we borrowed and made their way to show and tell at Marble Elementary in East Lansing Michigan. There we would tell of ” Uncle Jack The Fossil Hunter” and the tails of his treasures. Now his story can live on through you.

    I am so happy you have the journal and can do this research.

    All my best!

    Ann Coulon Bean

    1. It sounds as though you are almost as happy that the journal has made its way here as I am! Stay tuned for more posts about “Uncle Jack.”

      And happy new year!


  4. I will look forward to the Canada paper, and your research on the journal and what it reveals of the S. American expedition. Thanks, Paul!

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