Catalog of Historical Files

The Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute has been engaged for decades with wilderness research. As scientists meticulously work through their studies, they leave evidence of research in the form of field notes, study plans, surveys, and countless other important files. In an effort to preserve these pieces of wilderness history, the Institute recently revisited the cabinets and drawers that contain the research files. Historical files are now maintained in an organized catalog dating from 1968 and boasting a host of authors and collaborators including wilderness giants Bob Lucas, David Cole, and Stephen McCool, as well as many current and past Institute staff. 

The online Catalog of Historical Files is available in an excel format, with searchable dates, study numbers, authors and contents.

A Guide to Using the Historical Catalog

The Historical Catalog of the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute is a digital file organized as a spreadsheet, corresponding to the contents of ALWRI's historical files. Column titles are: Cabinet, Drawer, File, Coop, Study, Year, Title, Author, and Contents. The files are stored in the basement of the USFS Forestry Sciences Laboratory, 800 East Beckwith Avenue, Missoula, MT 59801.

Cabinet: the first cabinet is the dark brown file cabinet to the furthest left.

Drawer: The first drawer is the bottom-most in the first filing cabinet (1). The top-most is (5).

File: The first folder within the first drawer is to the front, starting with the earliest file and the smallest number.

Coop and Study: Institute projects come in two forms that often overlap. Internal studies were funded and completed by the ALWRI unit of the Rocky Mountain Research Station. However, at the earliest file, ALWRI did not yet exist as an Institute. Internal studies were indicated by INT-1903, which is the unit designation for Robert C. Lucas's research group. File folder #40 marks the change of internal label to INT-4901, the current official work unit number of the ALWRI. The study # refers to which project a file aligns to- folders are arranged as best as possible in chronological and numerical order.

Cooperative agreements are indicted by a separate number system. Cooperative studies involve co-funding, co-research, and participation between any organization and ALWRI or the related unit. In some instances the collaborator may be a different unit of the Rocky Mountain Research Station (for example, #4 is a cooperation between INT-1903, and Jock Lyon's work unit, INT-1803), a university, the USFS, a separate business or management system, etc. In earlier files, the cooperative number format is different for every study, apparently dependent on the collaborator. Starting in the 1980s (by the end of the second drawer), a pattern of Coop numbers began to emerge (involving ##-C-#-etc). By file #44, the Coop numbers are organized primarily by a consistent system of COA and RJVA numbers. These follow the format of (INT-#####). RJVA numbers are the current filing system used by ALWRI.

Year: The years the study took place.

Title: the title is usually taken directly from an approved study plan, research proposal, or official report. For the sake of spatial limitations, an abbreviated title of keywords is sometimes used on the actual file folder.

Author: The author(s) are taken from official publications and signatures on agreement forms- occasionally an author might be included if they are the prime correspondent from a cooperative agency.

Content: The contents of each folder is listed by semi-colons, with consistent, easily searchable language. Although authors and collaborators vary, there are some critical elements present in each study. The verbage generally includes: research paper, draft, correspondence (used for emails, typed back-and-forth), handwritten letters, reports, memorandums, various forms (federal, reimbursement, financial), graphs, charts, photographs, surveys, code books, reports (draft, progress, and final), study plans, proposals, various agreements (including cooperative), and reference publications.

Labeling on file folders: The label should read: the folder number, the project number (whichever study number was most prominent or readily used in that study- may be internal, external, or both), the relevant title, and the most relevant year.