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The Ainu

Currently lacking identification, but not for long.

Pictured above are nine members of the Ainu, the indigenous race of Japanese, primarily found in Hokkaido, Japan’s northern-most island. As part of the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, visitors were welcomed to tour the “Living Exhibits,”–collections of indigenous races from around the world, temporarily living in recreated villages. While on display, the Ainu, as well as many of the other people in the assorted villages, taught others their native tongue, arts, crafts, hunting skills, and gave daily demonstrations of their culture and heritage.

The image here, on file in the library of the AMNH, has spotty information on the back of the card. It misidentifies one of the Ainu as John Batchelor, a Christian Missionary who spent over 60 years administrating to health and needs of the Ainu, long before the Ainu were recognized as equals to the Japanese. With help from a report by James W. Vanstone titled, “The Ainu Group at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, 1904,” I’d like to finally change the image’s description from “husband,” “wife,” “child,” to their names–something that’s been missing for over 100 years.

From left to right:
Bete Goro, left behind a pregnant wife so that he could come to the United States. A servant in Rev. Batchelor’s house for years. From Sapporo, Hokkaido.

Santukno, wife of Sangyea. From Piratori, Hokkaido.

Yazo, 23 or 24 years old. Husband of Shirake. Lived with Rev. Batchelor for 10 years. From Sapporo, Hokkaido.

Shirake, 18 years old. Wife of Yazo. From Sapporo, Hokkaido.

Shutratek, wife of Kutoroge. From Piratori, Hokkaido.

Kiko, daughter of Kutoroge and Shutratek. From Piratori, Hokkaido.

Kutoroge. Husband of Shutratek. From Piratori, Hokkaido.

Kin, daughter of Sangyea and Santukno. From Piratori, Hokkaido.

Sangyea, husband of Santukno. From Piratori, Hokkaido.

This is only a start as I continue to pull together all the information, photographs, and items from the collections of the AMNH and its library. There’s always more to the story behind the image.

James Rodgers


This was our last day in Invertebrate Paleontology. We spent our morning with Bushra and Becca on the fifth floor checking that our data matched up with the collections and attaching final labels. It was a good decision to begin the day with a full room review because we realized early on that we had somehow skipped over a bay full of IP treatises and catalog ledger duplicates that required new records in our spreadsheets.

In the afternoon, we went over helpful notes Iris sent us for our spreadsheet. Looking forward to when our work will be transformed into MARC records that will eventually become part of the AMNH online research library, we had to make sure our data was neat and consistent. All of this meant deleting terminal periods and uncapitalizing words previously capitalized in all of our records, but we somehow got it all done!

It was definitely sad but also incredibly satisfying to end our work in IP. Claire and I are really proud of all that we’ve accomplished over the semester. We had fun helping Bushra realize new organization techniques for her department and we were happy to learn a lot more about Invertebrate Paleontology than we ever knew before. While it was sometimes dull work to sort through departmental files, the times when we found amazing things in the collection–photographs of the department’s early curators, beautifully handwritten ledgers and unique specimen drawings–made all of our efforts worthwhile.

Today, I concentrated on authority work and data clean-up within the Excel spreadsheet and Access database David and I have created for the Invertebrate Zoology archive.

Perhaps the easiest columns to work with in the Excel spreadsheet were the Creator and Date fields. For these, I performed searches in the AMNH OPAC and the LOC Authorities website and referred to DACS for formatting questions.

The Title field proved a little trickier since several of the collections could be given the same name according to the rules in DACS. For example, David and I created a record for the files from Willis J. Gertsch’s career. However, another collection of Gertsch’s work from after his retirement was discovered a few weeks later. Since the earlier collection was processed, we decided to create a new record for the post-career materials. Since neither collection has a particular form that is dominant, both records are titled the Willis John Gertsch papers. This seemed odd to me, though, since I had assumed each record would receive a unique name. However, Becca spoke to Mai and Greg and it was decided the Date and Summary fields would help guide users to the correct collection, as is currently the practice. (For example, if you perform an author search for Roy Chapman Andrews in the OPAC, several collections titled “Papers” will appear in the results.)

As a shelf shifting project is currently underway, our efforts today were geared more toward detailing the accuracy of the data for collections we had previously cataloged. In particular, we went through the dates, titles, and names to make sure that they were compliant with DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard). One detail we learned is that abbreviations should be avoided, e.g., spell out circa and approximately, rather than ca. or approx.

Another area of focus was verifying authority records for creators. While some were easily found in the AMNH OPAC or the Library of Congress authorities, many could not be verified or even found at all. For example, no additional data could be found for Oscar Byron, a photographer responsible for a number of collections of travel photography from around the world. Verification or not, he took this sweet photo (no pun intended) of a mountain of sugar in Barbados, which was the most remarkable discovery today.

Both before and during his tenure as Assistant Curator of Mammals at AMNH, T. Donald Carter went on many expeditions. Today in my work on our collection of his materials, I came across many of his field notes and expedition diaries. A diary from 1927-28 is labeled as Roraina, a name I was not familiar with. A little investigation proved it is the name ofa mountain that straddles the Brazilian, Venezuelan and Guyanan borders. At the time of T. Donald Carter’s expedition it would have been located in British Guiana (the same expedition, I think, during which he rubbed shoulders with a post-White House Theodore Roosevelt). I was rather shocked when I discovered what this mountain looks like:

What’s also exciting is that a 16mm film taken on that voyage, the Day Roraima Expedition, is in the AMNH collections and has been transferred to videocassette and according to the catalog is available. Their base camp was atop the 8,600 ft. summit. Another interesting locale I’d never heard of before that T. Donald Carter visited in his capacity as a zoologist isUngava Bay in far north Quebec. A search of the AMNH catalog for “Ungava” does bring up the T. Donald Carter papers. Here it displays wonderful Arctic moodiness: