Collection Data

Page Contents: Section | Significance | Background | Location & Dates | Taxonomic Contents | Documentation | Description of Collection | Collection Inventory | Collection Assets

UCLA Malacology Collection 1919–1973

Section Responsible for Processing



Ulysses. S. Grant IV established the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) recent mollusk collection in the 1920s. It was used as a research and comparison resource in their Geology Department (now the Earth & Space Science Department). Dr. Willis P. Popenoe and LouElla R. Saul maintained the collection until it was transferred to NHMLAC in 1985. Its addition to the Museum strengthens our representation of the entire Molluska phylum and greatly expands our distribution records of dozens of species.


UCLA researchers frequently used their recent mollusk collection to compare fossil mollusks to living cognate species.
Principal investigators who used and added to this collection include E. Jestes, E.H. Quayle, G. Willett, and J. Zetek. Donors who provided significant additions to the collection include J. and R. Burch, A.G. Fischer, J. Golisch, H.N. Lowe, T. and I. Oldroyd, and A.M. Strong. K. Hatai, a professor at the University College Achimoto in Japan, strengthened UCLA’s Asia-Pacific respresentation through a specimen exchange program.

Integrating the UCLA holdings into our own has revealed new species, and description papers are in progress.

Selected publications that cite the UCLA collection include:

Hall, C. E. 1964. Arca (Arca) leptogramatica, a new late Tertiary pelecypod from the San Luis Obispo region, Calfiornia. Journal of Paleontology 38(1): 8-9.

Saul, L. R. and R. E. Petit. 2001. A new species of the aporrhaid gastropod genus Goniocheila Gabb, 1868, from the late Oligocene of North Carolina. The Veliger 44(3): 261-270.

Popenoe, W. P. 1983. Cretaceous Aporrhaidae from California: Aporrhainae and Arhrhoginae. Journal of Paleontology 57(4): 742-465.

Warme, J. E. 1971. Paleoecological aspects of a modern coastal lagoon. University of California Publications in Geological Sciences 87: 1-110.

Collection Location and Dates

Specimens were collected from over 50 countries representing much of coastal Earth, including North, Central, and South America, the Pacific Rim and Austral-Asia, India and Pakistan, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, coastal Europe, and sections of Africa as well as many islands throughout the South Pacific. Collection dates range from 1919 to 1973.

Taxonomic Contents

Primarily a general collection, the UCLA holdings thoroughly represent shelled gastropods, bivalves, and chitons. Cephalopods and scaphopods are also partially represented. The holdings are particularly rich in Alaskan mollusks collected by George Willett in the 1930s and 1940s.


A collection inventory is contained in several ledger books and in a single 10 drawer file cabinet with taxa noted on 3" x 5" index cards. As the ledger books also include specimen lots of fossils, they are housed in the Invertebrate Paleontology section at the South Grand Warehouse. The card file is in the offices of the Malacology section of NHMLAC.

Description of Collection

A survey of Mugu Lagoon was conducted as a UCLA graduate student project (John Warme, PI) at Mugu Lagoon, and is wet-preserved in 20 1-gallon jars. The rest of the collection is almost entirely dry-preserved. These holdings come to us systematically arranged into gastropods, bivalves, chitons, cephalopods, and scaphopods. They are divided into two collections:
1) a world-wide research collection fully curated by former UCLA and NHMLAC staff member LouElla Saul
2) a predominantly non-curated world-wide collection.

In 1985, the year the collection was donated, we moved it to the East Lake Warehouse, a multi-use LA county facility. We moved it again in 1988 to the North Grand Warehouse. Between November 18 amd 21, 2002, the curated part of the collection was packed and moved to NHM’s 3rd floor East wing hallway. As lots are processed they are integrated into the cabinets of the Molluska collection on the 3rd floor.

Part 2 of the collection is still stored in the southwest corner of the North Grand Warehouse in poor conditions: there are no environmental controls and inadequate lighting at a facility that is prone to leaks.

Collection Inventory

The curated collection is contained in 28 metal "UCLA-type" cabinets with 12 drawers each [1 metal "UCLA-type" cabinet approximately equals 2 Lane cases]. If each metal cabinet contains at least 2 trays per drawer with roughly 30 lots per tray,

30 lots/tray x 2 trays/drawer x 12 drawers/cabinet x 28 cabinets =
approximately 20,160 lots.

The non-curated collection is in 15 upright wood "UCLA-type" cabinets that contain 57 drawers each. The number of trays in each cabinet varies, but with an estimated 40 trays/cabinet x 15 cabinets = 600 trays each with approximately 20 lots/tray = 12,000 lots. Thus the total estimated number of lots within this collection is 32,160.

Much of the collection was curated to museum standards at UCLA. Former Malacology collection manager Cliff Coney curated the UCLA freshwater bivalves into the NHMLAC collection in the early 1990s, but the rest is not curated to museum standards, if at all. [NOTE: During the UCLA collection move from the East Lake Warehouse to the North Grand Warehouse in 1988, a wooden case was toppled and its contents may be a total loss].

Collection Assets

No collection assets available.

Curatorial Status (Click to view)