Professor of geology and paleontology at the University of Michigan, director of the Michigan Geological Survey, and chancellor of Syracuse University, popular lecturer and writer on scientific topics and as a Methodist layman who worked to reconcile traditional religious beliefs to nineteenth-century developments in the fields of evolutionary biology, cosmology, geology, and paleontology. Papers include extensive diaries, field notes and maps from travels and geological expeditions, correspondence, speeches, articles and other publications and photographs.
The papers of Alexander Winchell are those of an orderly man who carefully documented his own life through well-organized correspondence, diaries, notebooks, and scrapbooks. Winchell kept thorough evidence of his activities, writings, lectures, and thoughts, for most of his life. The only area that seems poorly documented is his university teaching. The collection does not appear to include significant material relating to relationships with students in the classroom.
"Alexander Winchell, an editorial tribute," published in The American Geologist (Feb. 1892, MHC call number DB/2/W759/A512), includes a year-by-year account of Winchell's life, based on the papers, and probably written by his brother N. H. Winchell. Although there are no footnotes in this work, it provides a useful summary of Winchell's activities and clues to the existence of documentation in the collection.
The collection is divided into six major series: Biographical, Correspondence, Diaries and journals, Writings and lectures, Reference and research files, and Scrapbooks; and three smaller series: Visual materials, Processing notes, and Card files.
Winchell's bibliography is located in Box 1 (the most complete copy is in the "Permanent memoranda" volume), and drafts of many of his writings are found in Boxes 8-14. Copies of many, but not all, of Winchell's publications are found in the MHC printed collection. The card catalog includes details for all separately cataloged items. There are also three collections of pamphlets that are not inventoried: two slightly different bound sets prepared by N. H. Winchell after Alexander Winchell's death (MHC call numbers DA/2/W759/M678/Set A and DA/2/W759/M678/Set B) and a two-box collection of pamphlets collected by the University Library (MHC call number Univ. of Mich. Coll./J/17/W759).