Currently viewing the tag: "Humidity"

For the past two days Becca and I continued our work in the Ichthyology Archives. On Wednesday we focused our efforts in the department’s storage room, where we needed to finish filling out our catalog records and assess risks for all of the collections in this location. We were also able to finally see into two filing cabinets that had been locked and unseen for many years. One turned out to be a dud, and completely empty. The other, however, was full of a previous department curator’s research on intersexuality in fishes. As yet, this research is unprocessed but seems to be organized very well, which bodes well for future processing. We also came across some interesting objects that were completely foreign to us. We had to ask a member of the Department exactly what they were. Can you guess? (Click to enlarge.)

They’re S.E.M. preps, or Scanning Electron Microscope preparations. In this case, organic specimen samples, such as fish skin and bones, have been cleaned and given a very fine plating of gold. The specimens are then mounted to be viewed under an electron microscope. Pretty neat sciency stuff! Anyways, I was impressed.

Thursday morning we moved into the Ichthyology Department’s Dean Library. It is organized well, and kept quite cool, however the room does not have any humidity control. We did find a HOBO humidity data logging device on one of the shelves, but it’s unknown if the data is still being collected from it. We measured the linear feet of the books on the shelves, and took an individual count of the department’s rare books from their inventory sheet since the cabinet was locked. In the afternoon we measured the collection sizes of the department’s bulletins, novitates, financial records, and specimen loan paperwork. This information was then added to our cataloging and risk assessment databases, effectively completing our dataset for the entire Ichthyology Archive!

In the next couple weeks I’ll likely be returning to the Anthropology Archive to pick up where Todd and I left off with the risk assessment phase at the end of the Spring semester.

Today we completed Phase 1 in the Department of Mammalogy. In total we described 97 collections, but because of the organization of the archive, that number fails to tell the whole story. In reality, the total number of collections, if properly processed, would probably be more in the vicinity of 15-20. The second floor of the archive in particular is home to a majority of the visual images related to the various expeditions conducted by the Department from the turn of the century through the 1950s. Some of the images feature specimen samples, but the great majority of them tell the stories of those expeditions. It would be an interesting future project to properly arrange and describe the collections so that they are housed together, by expedition. Pictures were taken by different members of the expedition, perhaps resulting in the segmented housing of the images throughout the archive.

In the course of this project, we have grown close to Richard Archbold, pictured here. He was born in New York City in 1907 and was an heir to the Standard Oil fortune. From 1929-1939, he worked with the Museum to organize and sponsor four expeditions, first to Madagascar and then three to New Guinea. He supported other expeditions to New Guinea and Australia after WWII as well. Evidence of these efforts are everywhere in the archive.

It is interesting to note that the Archbold correspondence collection is carefully arranged, as are the publications that stemmed from the expeditions. Perhaps this has been considered sufficient to telling their story. The visual images, however, give life and full weight to their experiences and their proper arrangement, description and cataloging would be very exciting to see. The breadth of the photographic collection is such that with the right amount of attention and organization. This collection can be offered a second life and a new audience through the scanning process. A digital archive seems a natural step in sharing these historically and scientifically rich images. During the course of our inventorying, we have also come across countless color and black and white prints, slides of all types – from kodachromes and stereoslides to glass and lantern – negatives in various sizes and fragile “vintage” prints as well as a copper plate portrait. One of the recommendations we would make is to install proper temperature and relative humidity controls.

As we have recorded already, the existence of an air conditioner on the first floor has created two separate climates. Today we guessed that there was a difference of about 15 degrees between the two floors. For Phase 2 we have assessed the risks to each collection, however, the lack of temperature and humidity controls represents the greatest risk of all.