- Project Team
In 2010 when the library’s first CLIR grant was underway we strategized with the project timeline, plotting a course through the departments. As often happens with projects involving inventory efforts, it became the starting point for a multitude of spin off projects. One of the largest and most inspiring projects has been our current CLIR hidden collections projects grant, of which we are well into our second year. Another happy occurrence has been the ongoing ‘department discoveries’ and transfers that continue to occur.
Before Alfred Kinsey studied human sexuality he studied gall wasps. During his years of entomological study, 1917 to approximately 1940, Kinsey amassed a significant collection of gall wasp specimens that eventually became part of the AMNH collections. Since 1995 the AMNH archive has had in its holdings a modest and seemingly incomplete collection for Kinsey which supports the museum’s late 1958 acquisition of his gall wasp collection. The Alfred Kinsey entomological papers, 1917-1941 are described as only having correspondence for people with last names that begin with B; Balduf, Banks, Beutenmuller, Borgmeier. It had always been a bit of a mystery to the current library staff. It’s clear that the collection had been separated before 1995, but where the other portion of the collection lived was unknown.
Recently a researcher looking for images of Alfred Kinsey led museum archivist Barbara Mathé to Christine LeBleau, a scientific assistant in the department of Entomology, home to Kinsey’s 7.5 million-specimen gall wasp collection. A small collection of images were found to have come in with the specimen collection. Housed near the gall wasp specimens Barbara discovered lantern slides and what may be the rest of the Kinsey correspondence collection along with his library and reprint collection on gall wasps. The department decided to transfer the collections to the library to make more space for their researchers; agreeing that the library would offer wider access for researchers and more detailed description to the little known archive collection.
When we went to the department to pick up the transfer I noticed that another small correspondence collection was housed near the Kinsey papers. A box labelled O.A. Stevens Correspondence seemed overlooked and in need of some rehousing; I requested that it come too. This led to conversations with the museum’s expert in Bee studies, Dr. Jerome Rozen and his collection assistant Eli Wyman. The Stevens’ correspondence collection supported a specimen gift from the 1930’s. Once again, because the main museum archives offered description and access in the form of online finding aids, it was decided that it would be a good home for the collection enabling both internal and external researchers to access information.
In offering care and access to the museum’s archival collections in the science departments, others have been inspired to take the opportunity to transfer archival collections to us. The important Kirby-Cleveland supporting archive collection has recently been transferred as well as a collection from well known bee worker, Herbert Ferlando Schwartz.
Last month I described how we grew our Excel worksheet to support gathering descriptions for AMNH expeditions and personnel in data fields mapped to EAC-CPF. Today I will explain how this basic worksheet developed, and how it became an invaluable tool for creating EAC-CPF XML as well.
I know… nothing that can be done in a spread sheet is as cool as riding to camp on the back of a camel, but allow me to tell you how we got our records from XLS to XML. Nudge-nudge, in case you aren’t aware, the AMNH Library recently launched its collection of digitized images online where I found this fabulous photograph.
I’m currently interning at the American Museum of Natural History, working on their CLIR Hidden Collections project. The project has focused on the creation of EAC-CPF (Encoded Archival Context – Corporate bodies, Persons, and Families) records, in an attempt to highlight the individuals associated with AMNH expeditions. One of the goals of the project was to shed light on people in connection with these expeditions that researchers and the public may not be aware. While working on a record for explorer Carl Ethan Akeley, it struck me just how much one particular individual was not given more attention: his wife, Mary L. Jobe Akeley. The archives at AMNH house the Mary L. Jobe Akeley collection (Call nos. A342-A344), gifted by her estate in 1967 and 1977. The information within this substantial collection was used to craft an EAC-CPF record for Jobe herself, but I decided to go one step further to bring to light the accomplishments of this remarkable woman.
There is an antiquated saying: behind every great man there is a great woman. This was never truer (and perhaps misleading) in the case of Mary Lenore Jobe Akeley. In the world of explorers, it is Carl Ethan Akeley’s name that is more commonly known. From his work with the Chicago Field Museum to his creation of the Akeley Motion Picture camera to his passion and desire to create the African Hall exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History (now entitled the Akeley Hall of African Mammals), it is Carl Akeley who we mostly remember. Few laypersons are aware of Mary Jobe Akeley and the work she had been performing long before she married, and well after.
Born on January 29, 1878 in Tappan, Ohio, Jobe grew up with aspirations of being an explorer. She was bright, attending college by age 15 and earning two degrees, a Bachelor of Philosophy, and a Master of Arts by 1909. In 1930, she received an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from Mt. Union College. While in school she taught grammar and high school and was a member of numerous faculties, including the Head of the Department of history and Civics at the New York State Normal and Training School at Cortland and member of the Department of History at the Normal College of the City of New York(1). Throughout all of this, Jobe also began embarking on expeditions.
Jobe’s main area of interest was the Canadian Rockies. Throughout the span of her life she would participate in ten expeditions to British Columbia. Her first two expeditions were in 1905 and 1907, where she helped botanize for Dr. Charles Shaw of the University of Pittsburgh. She would return in 1909, this time with Professor Herschel C. Parker, assisting in the Canadian Topographical Survey Expedition. Her next two expeditions, in the summers of 1910 and 1912 found Jobe exploring areas around Mt. Assiniboine and the Great Divide. During this time, she not only took numerous notes and photographs while on her expeditions, but she also began lecturing at various institutions about her discoveries (a newspaper article from 1913 indicated she gave over 40 lectures on the topic in 1912 alone) (1).
In 1935, Henry Raven set out with Arthur S. Vernay, Stephen F. Hopwood, and other hunters, academics, and guides on a research trip to Burma. He served as lead scientist, collector, and primary photographer. Following along the northern section of Chindwin River, the group set out to document the indigenous birds, tribes, and customs of the area for further comparison and study back at the AMNH.
Before Raven left on the expedition, he first had to itemize and arrange for all the things he would need for the following three months. Some he would acquire personally, others were supplied by the museum, and even more items would have to be purchased with traveling funds once the team was en route through England, Bombay, and Rangoon.
When walking to the exit in the 81st St. – Museum of Natural History subway station, among the creatures on the walls welcoming visitors to the museum is a fish that may appear to be just another prehistoric creature from some geological age long ago. In truth, it wasn’t until the twentieth century that paleontologists learned that this fish, previously thought to be a long extinct dino-era species found only in fossils, was alive and well in the waters off South Africa.
The Coelacanth (pronounced SEEL-uh-kanth) is an exceedingly rare and endangered species of fish that is related to land-dwelling vertebrates, and its lack of evolution over hundreds of millions of years make this fish what experts have dubbed a “living fossil”; the fish looks just as it did when it first appeared in the Devonian period fossil record, some 375,000,000 years ago. In 1938, fishermen caught the first living Coelacanth specimen near the mouth of the Chalumna River, right off the southeastern coast of South Africa. It was purportedly noticed in a fish market by a woman named Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, who was a curator at the nearby East London Museum. She, in turn, sent sketches and a description of the primeval fish to renowned South African ichthyologist J.L.B. Smith who recognized it as a Coelacanth and named the species Latimeria chalumnae after Ms. Courtenay-Latimer and the river in which it was found. As of 1957 only 12 other living specimens had been found, all near the Comoros Islands, and were taken the Natural History Museum in Paris for study. The original discovery was hailed by scientists worldwide as one of the most important natural history discoveries of the century.
Have you ever walked through the halls of the American Museum of Natural History and imagined what it was like for a scientist in the 1920s to gather specimens and interpret important data? As a seasonal intern for the CLIR Hidden Collections project, I’m helping uncover and organize information documented by the museum and its staff for all interested researchers. Recently I’ve been working with the papers of Henry Cushier Raven, an Associate Curator of Comparative and Human Anatomy at the Museum and the plethora of his scientific reports- one of which had a very unique origin story…
As part of my internship this fall at the American Museum of Natural History, I was asked to create authority records for the American Museum Congo Expedition (1909-1915) and its two scientists: the mammalogist Herbert Lang and ornithologist James Paul Chapin. I particularly became engrossed with the story of Chapin’s experiences. He was a fascinating figure in the history of the Museum, and one of those individuals I have now placed on my “If I could have a dinner party with five people” wish list.
Born a stone’s throw from the Museum, Chapin’s family moved to Staten Island when he was three. There he cultivated a love of nature, encouraged by his mother. His childhood nickname was Chippy, and his first scientific presentation as a teen was on the observations of a mouse in captivity. Although he had obtained a scholarship to Columbia University, he postponed college for a year after high school and obtained work at the Museum. It was there that he found his home away from home. He would stay with the Museum for 43 years, and even after his retirement maintained a very close association with the institution as Curator Emeritus. In 1935 he wrote that he was “First employed by American Museum at the age of 16…hopes to work hard for the Museum as long as he lives.” He ultimately would do just that.
Roy Chapman Andrews was an explorer and paleontologist, director of the American Museum of Natural History from 1935 to 1941. He was the quintessential adventurer. Andrews began as a volunteer janitor and self-taught taxidermist at the museum in 1906. His first expedition was to the Pacific Coast to study marine mammals; he went on to explore in Alaska, Japan and Korea, and, aboard the U.S.S. Albatross, the East Indies. Andrews made over 20 expeditions, but his most famous were the Asiatic Zoological Expeditions, especially the third, from 1921 to 1930, known as the Central Asiatic Expeditions, which traveled to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and China.
The Crocker Land Expedition (1913-1917) had difficulties from the start. The expedition whose mission was to investigate an Arctic landmass Robert E. Peary reported seeing, was originally supposed to begin in July 1912, but due to the death of George Borup, one of the expedition leaders, in April of 1912, the expedition was put off until the following July, 1913. Then, an expedition that was supposed to last for one season ended up being four years long. During this time the Crocker Land Expedition’s ship the S.S. Diana wrecked and there were three unsuccessful rescue attempts before Captain Robert A. Bartlett, aboard the steamer “The Neptune”, finally reached the remaining members in 1917 (in the winter of 1916 several of the expedition members had traveled south by dogsled and returned home).
Describing Expeditionary field work at the AMNHThese posts describe recent discoveries and observations by the project team.
In 2012, the Research Library of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) was awarded a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, through a program administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources’ (CLIR) Cataloging Hidden Collections. The AMNH Archive Project will produce in-depth descriptions, called finding aids, for major archival collections relating to Museum expeditions. The project will also result in brief histories of these expeditions and biographies of those who participated in them.
TagsAinu AMNH library catalog Anthropology Archives Archbold Archival Arrangement Authority Names CAT Cataloging CLIR 2010 clir 2012 Correspondence Crocker Land Department of Preparation and Installation Department Records EAC-CPF expeditions Fall 2011 Field Notes Finding Aid finding aids Hayden Planetarium Herpetology Archives hidden connections IMLS LARA linked data Mammalogy Archives Manuscript Collection Maps Museum History Non-Curatorial Field Notes Ornithology Archives Paleontology Archives Phase 2 photographs Photo Print Collection Processing Research Library Risk Assessment Slide Collection Spring 2011 Spring 2012 Summer 2011 Summer 2012 T. Don Carter
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