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That’s right as of today I have officially finished the Phase I stage in the slide collection. Yeah! Most of the boxes I went through today were in excellent shape and I really only found 2 problems. One a complete lack of labeling of a rather large collection and the other a very obvious case of a misplaced slide. The slide was of a lemur near her den and was labeled as being in Zion National Park, Utah. The problem is the rest of the collection (3 boxes worth) were all of animals taken in Africa!

While I didn’t have that many boxes to go through today there was quite a variety to the collections I did work on. I started with Philip Hanson Hiss’ collections and although there were many boxes telling me the slides were from a “Trip Around the World”, none of the slides or boxes where labeled with anything more specific than that. It is really a shame because there are some really beautiful slides in these collections but with out verification of what they are and where they were taken are they any use to researchers? There is only so much authority work one can do.

I then went on to some collections created by AMNH of both temporary and permanent exhibits when they were built. I was truly fascinated by the “Nature of the Diamond” Temporary Exhibit that was here in 1997. It included diamonds in royal jewelry as well as diamonds still in their matrix rocks.

I finished then Phase I in true AMNH style with a wonderful collection by Richard Van Gelder. Gelder traveled extensively around Africa from 1960-1981 photographing African animals in the wild. These slides were truly some of the best I’ve seen so far and often made me feel like I was right there next to these animals. Honestly Iris and I felt like we were looking at National Geographic. Unfortunately I can’t share any of these photos today since we are having difficulties with our camera but I will be sure to add some in either Wednesday or next Monday so be sure to check back!

Today in Herpetology for a change of pace, we decided to take a side trip to the map room. Needless to say we found some maps. Big maps, small maps, old maps, new maps, sketch maps, maps in Spanish, black and white maps, color maps, relief maps and even some hand drawn maps. As you can see by picture above, one map was almost bigger than Marilyn!!

The maps spanned the entire world including every continent as well as countries, states, counties, cities, townships and even some maps of remote locations where the herpetologists found and marked specific specimens.

Most of the maps were in good condition. All are kept in map drawers and many are separated with acid-free paper. Some of the older maps are brittle and ripping. The following map is of Arizona which a herpetologist who happened to pass by estimated it was from the 1930s.

We did find some maps that were laminated. We we wondering if that may be a good solution for the older maps that are falling apart. Are these maps too fragile for the laminating process?

So far we have estimated over 2000 maps in this collection and that does not include a locked cabinet we can not get into yet. Among this collection are also many items that are not maps and should probably not be in this room but more on that later….

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Today we continued processing all of S. Byron Stone’s many many MANY slides!! Since an Internet search of him returned very little our best guess is that Stone was a world traveler who donated his travel photographs to the museum. He was extremely well travelled and explored some fascinating locations including Isreal, Japan, Thailand, South America and many more. thoughout the 1960’s. We came across a Body Building Competition in Japan that was a welcome change from the never ending slides of street markets and landscapes.

Stone’s images captured a specific time and place in the world when noticeable changes still existed between different countries. One of the souvenirs included in the slide collections were souvenir slides, created at the time to be bought by tourists for their slide shows at home. We’ve noticed these slides in a few of the travel collections of different people and have noted that every time they are present, the quality of the slide has deteriorated in color faster than the slides included in the collection. We somehow doubt that any country is creating souvenir slides today.

There were some problems with sloppy labeling present in Stone’s collection and also in the mysterious Clyde Fisher collection. More on the mystery later. In the case of the Fisher collection, many of the labels were marked directly on the mount in ink, which could off-gas. In the case of the Stone collection, we came across a rather sloppy and extreme case of labeling gone wrong when we found a slide covered in what looked like red crayon.

And on to our mystery of the day: how does a man take extensive photos of his travels over 20 years after his death? That is the question that the wonder of authority records will solve, when we clear up the reason why a Clyde Fisher who died in 1949 was labelled the creator of slides taken in the late 60s and early 70s. Hooray for authority records!

As always, thanks for visiting the slide collection with us and we will see you all next week!

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.

E.Thomas (Ernest Thomas) Gilliard (1912-1965), an American ornithologist and AMNH museum curator, led or participated in many ornithological expeditions especially in South America and New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea, officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country located on the island of New Guinea. It is the second largest island after Greenland.

His first expedition to New Guinea occurred in 1948 when he was an assistant curator in the AMNH Ornithology department. He then went on to make six more trips within the next sixteen years. The results of his observations were published in two volumes; Birds of Paradise and Bower Birds and Handbook of New Guinea Birds, co-authored by Austin Rand, both of which can be found in the AMNH Library’s catalog.

Also in the AMNH library’s catalog, are the published results of one of his expeditions to New Guinea:
1958-1959 Gilliard New Britain Expedition

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Have you Flown a Ford Lately?

The beautiful bird illustrations by Fuertes were used by Ford Motor Company as inspiration for a new line of Lincoln Continentals, modeled on particular birds. Correspondence files with Ford contained comments like: “The Brazilian Oriole (icterus jamacali) is one of the most beautiful of the American Orioles, or hang-nests…. This contrast of orange and black has been unusually well interpreted by Judkins in his Two-Passenger Semi-Collapsible Coupe…an intimate personal car. Illustrations of the bird and the car were featured together in Ford’s marketing material for this new car.

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Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874-1927), world renowned bird artist, was invited by his friend and fellow conservationist, Charles T. Church, an officer of Church & Dwight Co. Inc., to create colorful Bird Cards for their Arm & Hammer brand. These 1.5 x 3 inch cards are the precursors of baseball cards first packed in boxes of baking soda in the 1880s.

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For the last couple of weeks, I have been working on transforming the Department Records spreadsheet data into solid MARC records using MarcEdit. MarcEdit has a “handy, dandy function” called the Delimited Text Translator which allows you to assign individual fields to a MARC code complete with indicators and subfields using the Tab Delimited Text Wizard! Sounds exciting, no? But let me back up for a moment…

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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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We continued cataloguing department files, meticulous bibliographic records for citations in published manuscripts, back in the day before “EndNote” and “WordRef.”

We then moved on to the metal cabinets containing the Department of Ornithology’s rare book collection. The books are beautifully cared for, organized alphabetically by author and appropriately housed in archival boxes, where necessary. The hand-colored plates and watercolors are the hidden gems in this archive. We were particularly impressed by the works of Japanese artists K. Koizumi and S. Tsuchioka who published paintings of 1,000 birds or flowers of Japan in 1928. Each page had an overleaf of rice paper with Japanese text explaining the bird specimen, and under the rice paper was a thick page with a gorgeous watercolor. The owls we selected to display here correspond to the (muffled) hoots by archivists when they discovered this collection.

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