SPNHC 2014 DemoCamp: The Field Book Project: The Starting Point of Natural History Collections

TitleSPNHC 2014 DemoCamp: The Field Book Project: The Starting Point of Natural History Collections
Publication TypePresentation
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsRussell, Rusty, Parilla Lesley, and Sheffield Carolyn
KeywordsField Book Project, Field Book Registry, Natural History Collection, Smithsonian Collections Search (SCS), SPNHC 2014 DemoCamp
AbstractFor over 25 years, natural history collections have been funding efforts to digitize specimen data and, more recently, create digital image surrogates for literally millions of specimens. Ironically, little attention was being paid to a large number of original field books and related documentation (maps, photos, sketches, diaries, etc.) produced by the collectors of these objects. These materials describe, in first-hand accounts, the actual specimen collecting events. Although some have been managed in a controlled fashion by libraries and archives, a greater number (fide our experience at SI) were stored in less than optimal conditions. The Field Book Project was begun as a means of addressing this issue for the sake of these materials and for the good of science. The Field Book Project has four goals: 1) locate and catalogue all Smithsonian field books and related materials, 2) make this content universally available, 3) image and transcribe field books to provide even greater accessibility, and 4) design a Field Book Registry that will coordinate efforts among collections to expose their content. In early 2013, the Field Book Project loaded more than 7,000 field book records to the Smithsonian Collections Search (SCS) site <collections.si.edu>. Hundreds have been fully imaged and scores have been fully transcribed … two processes that continue with available funding. The SCS contains millions of records from all corners of the Smithsonian, including art, history, and science. We will demonstrate how to search for field book content in this heterogeneous mix.