Figure 1: Detail image of limestone specimens.

History of Survey Collections

The collection and care of Indiana’s geological heritage began in 1837 when Governor Noah Noble appointed David Dale Owen as the first state geologist. His duties required him to maintain a "geological cabinet" of rocks, minerals, and fossils. As part of his geological reconnaissance of the state’s natural resources, Owen invited members of the public to send samples and specimens to his laboratory in New Harmony, Indiana, for identification and display. As the Survey grew and relocated, collections were split among the Indiana University Paleontology Collection and the Indiana State Museum, and a significant portion of Owen’s holdings were donated to the nascent Smithsonian Institution. The legacy of these early collections continues with today’s modern mission to discover, develop, and preserve Indiana’s natural resources.