In founding their university – where “any person can receive instruction in any study” -- Ezra Cornell (1807-1874) and his partner, Andrew Dixon White (1832-1918), knew that they needed the basics: buildings, a library, a faculty. It is remarkable that they also thought it essential to have a fossil collection. In 1868, just after the university opened, Cornell purchased the fossil collections of Col. Ezekiel Jewett (1791-1897) of Albany. Jewett was, among other things, a mentor to both the famous Yale paleontologist O.C. Marsh and paleontologist and Secretary of the Smithsonian Charles Doolittle Walcott. His collection was said to be one of the largest in private hands in the country. Jewett actually first offered his collection to Yale for $7,500, but Yale did not have the funds. Undeterred, Jewett offered the collection to Cornell for $10,000, and the sale was made (for more information, see Schuchert, C., and C.M. LeVene, 1940, O.C. Marsh. Pioneer in paleontology. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT). To this collection were added over the next 30 years substantial new material, principally by Professor Henry Shaler Williams (1847-1918), both through his own collecting or by trading, the latter apparently being responsible for the presence of material collected by several “superstars” of nineteenth century American invertebrate paleontology, including James Hall (1811-1898), James Dana (1813-1895), and William Gabb (1839-1878). As a result, by the 1890s Cornell had a large and excellent collection of fossils and an international reputation in paleontology.