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In Herpetology, we are nearing the end of the cataloging and risk assessment phases. Today, Rebecca continued with the risk assessment of the processed collections, while I catalogued the unprocessed collections. Adding to the disorganization, there were numerous boxes placed by the filing cabinets that needed to be sorted out. Not all the boxes were labeled, so I had to deduce who the creator was. I was able to do this by deciphering the handwriting on the materials in the unidentified boxes. The result was there were actually three collections (Ernest A. Liner, Roger Conant, and Sherman Minton.) These were labeled accordingly so hopefully, during the next cycle, it will be easy to continue with this project.

On the risk assessment side, things are moving quickly. While the majority of the materials were field notes, Rebecca came across some interesting black and white photos and beautiful etchings of various species. We have to say that we’ve made good progress and hopefully we will finish on the last day of our internship.

Risk assessment was the name of the game today as we continued to survey the herpetological collections. At first, we didn’t find anything unusual. As we continued, however, the Herndon Dowling Collection caught our attention. Dowling was a curator of reptiles in New York Zoological Park from 1960-1967 and Emeritus Professor of Biology at New York University. During the 1920s, he conducted studies of the black swamp snake and discovered two subspecies. Therefore, it came as no surprise that his collection contained mostly of anatomical drawings of snakes. We were impressed that these drawings were very detailed and done in pencil. Notations on the drawings indicated that they were copied from specimens in the museum. The photos on the left show the precision of the drawings.

On a conservation note, these drawings were not well protected and are left loose in the archival box. Ideally, they should be placed in mylar sleeves and put in archival envelopes or folders.

In the Herpetology Archives today, we came across an interesting self-made herpetologist, Ernest A. Liner. He was from the deep South and taught himself herpetology even though his real profession was in sales. He was known in his local area as someone to call on if he or she stumbled upon reptiles and amphibians in their neck of the woods.

Mr. Liner contributed to the field of herpetology and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1998.

In the left-hand picture, Ernest is with his pet, a 36-year old Mexican beaded lizard. (Doesn’t the lizard look like he’s smiling?) Mr. Liner passed away on September 23, 2010 at the age of 85 in Houma, Louisiana.

We’re moving along in the Herpetology Archives Collection, and now we’re up to the letter D. Most of the collections in the C’s were straightforward; there were not too many unusual materials to describe. Today, we surveyed numerous diaries of herpetologist Roger Conant and his wife, Isabelle Hunt Conant, who accompanied her husband on his various expeditions. She also photographed snakes that were very lifelike, that seemed to jump out of the picture.

We did have a question about cataloging the date range. For example, in the Jared M. Diamond collection, there was a published article about an expedition that took place in 1969; however, this article was included in an AMNH Bulletin published in 1979. Do we include the publication date as part of the date range field? We discussed this issue and weren’t sure. We opted not to, and instead decided to put the publication date in the side note field.

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Today being the first day, we organized the materials into eight collections using post-it notes and processed them, referring to the finding aid binder. We catalogued metadata on the spreadsheet taken directly from the files. There was some confusion as to the order of the contents in the file drawers but we were able to figure it out. We still need to finish completing the metadata fields in these collections. Overall, the contents of the files were in good condition.

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