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The Illinois Natural History Survey Mollusk Collection is global in scope with over 135 countries represented and contains over 485,000 catalogued specimens in nearly 88,000 lots.

The collection is strong in freshwater mussels (Unionoida), freshwater and terrestrial snails from the Midwestern U.S. and cone shells (Conoidea). We also have strong holdings of freshwater bivalves and gastropods from the Southeastern U.S., Central, and South America. The collection is 57% bivalves, 41% gastropods, 2% other; 67% freshwater; 20% marine or brackish; 13% terrestrial.

Many of the specimens were collected as a result of various faunal surveys conducted by INHS biologists from the late 1800s until the present. The early collections were made by such naturalists as John Wesley Powell, Robert Kennicott, Frank C. Baker, Richard E. Call, Anson A. Hinkley, Max Matteson, and William Starrett. The largest and best documented collection of land snails at the INHS was compiled by Thural D. Foster and organized by Frank C. Baker as part of his study on the “Fieldbook of Illinois Land Snails” published in 1939. The Baker snail collection numbers 1632 lots containing 11,970 specimens.

Over 99% have been identified to species and the names referenced to a literature source. All of the catalogued lots have been databased and 90% have been geo-referenced (assigned latitude and longitudinal coordinates). There are about 400 type lots: 200 freshwater gastropods, 150 terrestrial gastropods, and 50 freshwater bivalves. Over 40,000 soft parts of more than 200 species have been preserved (approximately half in ethanol) and available for study. About 12,000 lots were collected from 1850–1950 and 46,500 from 1950–present. We have a backlog of about 5,000 lots. We are in the process of imaging the specimens and 4000 lots have been photographed to date. (July 2017)

Location and Access

The INHS Mollusk Collection is housed in the Natural Resources Building, located at 605 East Peabody Drive on the University of Illinois campus.

Access to the collection by qualified researchers is normally available from 8:30am-5pm M-F and may be arranged by contacting the Collection Manager, Rachel Vinsel, or the Curator, Kevin Cummings.

Loans and Data Requests

Specimen loans are available to qualified researchers.  Loans are generally made for a period of one year, renewable upon request. To request a loan or data please contact Kevin Cummings or Rachel Vinsel.

Details of the collection policy may be seen here.