Currently viewing the tag: "Invertebrate Zoology Archives"

In wrapping up our project of a) cataloging, b) performing risk assessment, and c) moving the Invertebrate Zoology departmental archive to the research library, we spent the day sorting out a little bit of a mess. That is, as we were re-housing the materials, most of which were departmental records, we had to reconsider our previous scheme regarding the assignment of unique call numbers. All said and done, there was only marginal reorganization that took place. But for a few minutes there, we were afraid that we had previously erred so badly that it would require a significant amount of backtracking. Luckily, we’ve pretty much been on the right track all along. Although, once in a while—i.e., today—it’s necessary to throw in two parts detective work, one part speculation , and a pinch of “let’s-run-this-by-someone-else-and-see-what-they-think-about-it.”

So with the exception of one small unprocessed collection, our work here is just about done.

p.s. An interesting side note: among one of the collections—personal papers of an IZ staff member—we found an AMNH library book that is 21 YEARS OVERDUE! We will promptly return it to the circulation desk and ask no further questions.

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.)

In addition to our assignment of exposing hidden collections and performing risk assessment in the Invertebrate Zoology departmental archive, we are also helping to facilitate a shift of the materials. That is, the research library here at the museum will be accessioning the IZ archive and incorporating it into its archival holdings, with OPAC records and all. Given that, we spent a good portion of the day re-housing the correspondence collections we’ve previously cataloged from the filing cabinets where they used to live into 10x12x15 Paige miracle boxes, and labeling the contents. The only portion of the archive that will remain in the IZ department is the New York Entomological Society papers, which is a hitherto unprocessed collection.

The curious, aspiring archivists that we are, we couldn’t help but peek into some of those unorganized boxes that will be left behind. To our delight and amusement, we came across the liveliest item of any collection yet, a scrap album of the centennial celebration (1892-1992) of the New York Entomological Society. Among photographs and newspaper clippings about the event, the album contains a dinner menu…and what an appetizing menu it is. Among some of the savory dishes listed are plain, wax worm, and mealworm avocado; wild mushrooms in mealworm flour pastry; cricket and vegetable tempura; mealworm balls in zesty tomato sauce; mini fontina bruschetta with mealworm ganoush, wax worm fritters with plum sauce; roasted Australian Kurrajong grubs, sautéed Thai water bugs; assorted cricket breads with butter…and for desert, assorted insect sugar cookies. Yum yum.

Today was our first day in Invertebrate Zoology. We were greeted by our nice new friends: tarantulas and hissing cockroaches.

At first, we tried to get a sense of the collection’s scope and order. Some items were in banker’s boxes, while others were neatly arranged in file cabinets. To get our feet wet, we decided to work on the correspondence collections in the file cabinets. At first the process was a little slow, but we soon caught our rhythm which made things go much more smoothly. For the most part, nothing terribly interesting jumped out to us; however, there were a number of envelopes with photographs in the Pedro Wygodzinsky collection that appeared to span his personal and professional lives. We hope to examine these closer when we enter Phase II of the project; as well as several bundles of field notes, drawings, and diaries scattered throughout this selection.

One major perk we came across in the second file cabinet we opened was a set of inventory sheets prepared in 1986 as part of a New York Historical Document Inventory project. This was an enormous help to us in while we were creating records for the larger collections. For example, the dates on these forms were a huge time saver because they saved us the effort of getting a selection of dates from the files.

Stay tuned for what treasures we come across next week.