The collections held by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History are organized within the staffed departments of Anthropology, Invertebrate Zoology, Vertebrate Zoology, Museum Library and Archives and the Natural History Art Gallery. In addition there are holdings in mineralogy, regional geology and paleontology. The noteworthy holdings in each of these areas are listed below.
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Collections include approximately 75,000 archaeological specimens from 200 sites encompassing the Santa Barbara area and the Northern Channel Islands representing all major periods of prehistory, from excavations by David Banks Rogers and Phil C. Orr during 1923-1968. Other principal archaeological holdings include the James-Abels collection from the Cuyama region, material excavated from the Santa Barbara City College site, the W. I. Follett collection of archaeological fish remains, and various marine archaeological finds. The Museum is a repository for archaeological collections from environmental impact studies and actively curates collections from Channel Islands National Park and Los Padres National Forest.
Holdings include the world’s foremost collection of rare Chumash basketry and fiberwork consisting of some 100 archaeological specimens and 44 ethnographic pieces. More than 5,000 other ethnographic artifacts represent over 500 native cultures of California, Southwest, Northwest Coast, Western Arctic, and Great Plains. Donors include early collectors such as Lorenzo Yates, Max Fleischmann and Fernand Lungren.
- John P. Harrington Collection: Archives include 300 microfilm reels of California and Great Basin ethnographic and linguistic field notes, photographs, correspondence, and additional original materials that are not duplicated in the Smithsonian’s holdings.
- Other Linguistic Materials: California Indian linguistic manuscripts and Chumash lexical files of Madison S. Beeler and Richard Applegate (Professors of Linguistics, UC Berkeley).
- Field Note Archives: Extensive unpublished archaeological field notes of David Banks Rogers and Phil C. Orr; journals of Stephen Bowers (early collector of Chumash archaeological material); and records of California Indian artifacts held in European museums compiled by Thomas Blackburn, Robert Heizer, and Travis Hudson.
- Rock Art Archives: Drawings, photographs, and site records of North American Indian rock art compiled by noted researchers Campbell Grant, Georgia Lee, John Cawley, and William Hyder.