Help Us Develop This Resource

We present this online collection as an evolving project. As detailed below, we know that many records contain incomplete metadata. We hope that, by making these illustrations and the information we have about them available now, users of this collection will add to our knowledge about it. If you have information to share, please contact us at

What Has Been Digitized

Just over 2,200 illustrations have been digitized and are included in this online collection, which comprises series 1 of WCS Archives Collection 1039. According to the inventories maintained by the Department of Tropical Research (DTR), over 3,300 illustrations were originally created. The location of these additional illustrations is unknown but may include other collections both inside and outside the WCS Archives.

In cases where content appears on the backs of illustrations, those backs have been digitized and are included in this collection. (Fronts of illustrations are indicated by an –R suffix on their identifiers; backs of illustrations are indicated by a –V suffix.)


The digital collection's arrangement mirrors the physical collection's arrangement. The majority of the illustrations have been organized in boxes according to expedition; within the boxes, they have been organized numerically by numbers assigned by the Department of Tropical Research, with unnumbered illustrations placed at the beginning of each expedition. Some boxes toward the end of the collection include illustrations from various expeditions and have been grouped together because of their size or condition as described in the Notes field of the illustrations' records. See the collection's finding aid for more information.


The majority of illustration titles come from inventories maintained by the DTR and held in WCS Archives Collection 1005A.

Some entries were handwritten and difficult to decipher. In cases where we have had to guess at letters in a title, the title or portions of it have been entered it in brackets, with a question mark within the brackets, e.g., [Autoneris?] janus.

Occasionally, the DTR included a question mark with their supplied title, to indicate that they were uncertain about the species. In these cases, we have entered the title and the question mark with no brackets, e.g., Mycteroperca tigris?.

Sometimes, illustrations were either untitled in the inventory or not included in the inventory. If a title was written on the back of the illustration, we have included it in the title field. If there was no title in the inventory and no title on the back of the illustration, WCS Archives staff supplied the title, and we have entered it in brackets, e.g., [Nudibranchs].

Species names have changed over time, and it is possible that the DTR incorrectly identified some species. We have not attempted to address these changes or errors, but we are glad to know of them as well as any errors we may have made in our entry. Please contact us at if you have information.


When we have been able to identify an illustration's artist, either based on the inventories maintained by the DTR or by the presence of a signature, we have entered it into the records here as the illustration's creator.

Subject Terms

The subjects here use Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and IUCN Red List (IUCN) taxonomical terms as follows:

  • Non-animal subjects: The Kingdom has been entered according to LCSH. 
  • Invertebrate subjects: 
    • Arthropods, cnidarians, echinoderms, and mollusks: The Phylum has been entered according to LCSH and the Class according to IUCN. 
    • Worms: All species have been entered using the LCSH term “Worms”. 
    • All other species: The Phylum has been entered according to LCSH. 
  • Vertebrate subjects: The Class has been entered according to LCSH and the Order according to IUCN. Fish are the exception. All fish have been entered using the LCSH term “Fishes” and their orders entered according to IUCN.

Countries were entered using LCSH terms. Oceans were entered using FAO Major Fishing Areas terms.


All images within this collection are the property of the Wildlife Conservation Society ("WCS") and are protected under United States and international copyright laws. To inquire about using the images in this collection, please contact the WCS Archives at