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Field Museum Publications: Key Resources

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Field Museum Publications

Through the years, Field Museum publications--along with the name of the Museum itself--have gone through numerous title changes, numbering changes, and institution name changes, which are detailed below. For the purpose of this guide, publications are separated into two major categories--general and scientific--and are further described on the relevant discipline tabs throughout this guide: Anthropology, Botany, Geology, and Zoology.

Important Dates

  • 1893 - incorporated as the Columbian Museum of Chicago (no publications created under this name)
  • 1894 - name change to Field Columbian Museum
  • 1905 - name change to Field Museum of Natural History
  • 1943 - name change to Chicago Natural History Museum
  • 1966 - name changed back to Field Museum of Natural History
  • 1990s and beyond - while name is officially Field Museum of Natural History, named often shortened to "The Field Museum" for marketing and promotion purposes.

Annual Reports

Early annual reports are richly detailed with lists of accessions, descriptions of expeditions, and names of important figures in the history of The Field Museum. Access every annual report by year and type on The Field Museum website, and from the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL):

Centennial Collection

Publications highlighting some of the major collections of the Museum in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of its founding.

Field Columbian Museum Historical Series

A detailed description of collections as well as the establishment of the Museum. Published in 1894, the series produced one volume:


Beginning in 1894 and through 1981, the Museum published a general guide to the collections of the museum for the visiting public. Digitized guides (through 1951 and ongoing) may be found here via the Museum's partnership with the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). Another useful publications Miscellaneous Information Regarding Exhibits at the Field Museum


The member publication of the Museum, which was initiated in 1930, includes the serial, "A Brief History of The Field Museum" by Oliver Cummings Farrington, Curator of Geology, which was published over the course of the newsletter's first year.

Scientific Publications

© The Field Museum, GN85150c, Photographer Ron Testa.


Included here are the scientific publications documenting original research that have been published by the Museum since its inception. There are four series: Anthropology, Botany, Geology and Zoology. (The short-lived Ornithological Series (1896-1917) is sometimes included within the Zoology heading.) These publications are known as Fieldiana today, and comprise the majority of The Field Museum's contributions to the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). Please see individual discipline tabs for further information on these titles.

Some notes on numbering scheme:

  • When it was named "Publications. Botanical series., etc." (1895-1979/1980), items were issued by volume with a varying number of parts per volume.
  • When it was changed to "Fieldiana: New Series (1979-1980-present), each issue was (and is) individually numbered with no subsequent parts. Each are single, short monographs.
  • Occurrence of "Publication Number" - this is a consecutive numbering system given to each published item among the four disciplines. Its use in cataloging has been sporadic over the years and while it may appear in series statements, it is not the best access point. When the "Field Museum Press" existed (all publications were published and distributed through an in-house department) this publication number was more for physical organization of the actual printed stock.

Design Series

Published only by Anthropology, this series is of particular value to those interested in design work, arts, and handicrafts. 

Handbooks and Special Publications

This series had a very limited run in the early years, but each of the four disciplines did publish at least one. Each contains a comprehensive survey of the activities of the institution, with data on its history, organization, expeditions, endowments, etc. and also contained detail on certain sections of the exhibits. 


Monographs (longer papers) in a large format containing full-page plates. Otherwise, identical to Fieldiana.

Rapid Inventories - Biological and Social

Rapid inventories are fast surveys of some of the most remote, unexplored places on the planet. View the latest inventories on the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) here


A series documenting museum methods and practices. A limited run in the early years of the museum. These were numbered consecutively throughout entire technique series, but separated by their subject area.