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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Capstone event for BHL NDSR program

On January 4, 2018, in the midst of a memorable storm in the Northeastern US, approximately 30 intrepid travelers met to celebrate the successful completion of the BHL National Digital Stewardship Residencies developed for the IMLS, Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant submission: Foundations to Actions: Extending Innovations in Digital Libraries in Partnership with NDSR Learners.  The program plan included hiring five geographically-distributed residents, all graduates of LIS or related master's programs, to work on collaborative projects to improve tools, curation, and content stewardship for BHL. This work supported BHL development plans for the next generation portal for the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature.
 
The Capstone event was beautifully hosted by the Smithsonian Libraries at the Natural History Museum in the room where the first DC planning meeting for BHL occurred. Martin Kalfatovic (BHL Program Director and Associate Director, Digital Program and Initiatives for the Smithsonian Libraries) and Dr. Nancy Gwinn (Director of the Smithsonian Libraries) welcomed the group.  Robin Dale (Deputy Director for Library Services at IMLS) described the NDSR program within the context of the IMLS goals for a national digital platform, mentoring digital library leaders and developing communities of practice.  Dr. Scott Miller (Deputy Undersecretary for Collections and Interdisciplinary Support at the Smithsonian Institution) congratulated BHL on its accomplishments in making biodiversity literature accessible but also suggested further work on linking content, mobile access and establishing standards.

Constance Rinaldo (Librarian of the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University and Chair of the BHL Members' Council) gave an overview of the grant and process emphasizing the importance of ensuring the development of a strong cohort with leadership capacity among the geographically dispersed residents. Leora Siegel (Senior Director, Lenhardt Library of the Chicago Botanic Garden and a BHL NDSR Mentor) reflected on the past year and how rewarding it was to be a mentor to a recent graduate, wrestle with how to push the project forward, and connect with colleagues mentoring related projects with residents across the United States.  Mentors wished for more time, more opportunities to meet face to face with all participants and more professional meeting opportunities.

Katie Mika (BHL NDSR Resident at the Ernst Mayr Library) reflected on being a resident, struggling with the contrary thrusts of independence yet adherence to a partially defined project in a tight time frame.  Residents wished for more time, more structure and an in-depth technical introduction to BHL, yet all were successful in their work and learned more than they expected.

Trevor Owens (Head of Digital Content Management in Library Services at the Library of Congress) wrapped up the event with a keynote that focused on the push towards a National Digital Platform for digital data and his thoughts on digital preservation.

Although the final grant report looms large for the mentors, the Capstone event was an engaging send-off for the residents and we all look forward to following their future accomplishments.
Scott Miller presenting the
opening keynote
Katie Mika presenting the
BHL NDSR Resident Reflection
Trevor Owens presenting the
closing keynote

For specific information about the work of the residents, see their blog
and related BHL blog posts.

BHL NDSR Residents and Mentors
Alicia Esquivel, Resident at Chicago Botanic Garden, focused on Content Analysis.
Leora Siegel, Senior Director, Lenhardt Library

Marissa Kings, Resident at Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County, focused on Digital Library Best Practices.
Richard Hulser, Chief Librarian

Pamela McClanahan, Resident at Smithsonian Libraries, focused on User Needs and Usability.
Carolyn Sheffield, BHL Program Manager

Katie Mika, Resident at Ernst Mayr Library, Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology, focused on Crowdsourced Data Corrections and Enhancements.
Constance Rinaldo, Librarian, Ernst Mayr Library
and Program Director, BHL-NDSR Program
Joseph DeVeer, Project Manager and Museum Liaison, Ernst Mayr Library

Ariadne Rehbein, Resident at Missouri Botanical Garden, focused on Enhancing Image Discovery.
Doug Holland, Library Director, Peter H. Raven Library
Trish Rose-Sandler, Project Manager, Center for Biodiversity Informatics

Thank you to the speakers, external and internal to the grant project, for providing us with encouragement, support and reflections that we can take forward in our day to day work.  I want to especially thank Carolyn Sheffield (BHL Program Manager and Mentor to the Smithsonian Libraries resident) for managing the logistics of the Capstone event and ensuring its excellence.

By Constance Rinaldo
Librarian of the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University
Chair, BHL Members' Council

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Examining the History of Paleoanthropology Using BHL

In the middle of the nineteenth century, the scientific community was engrossed in discussions about evolution and the origin of species. The publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species in 1859 fueled extensive scientific debate and prompted further questions regarding human evolution. A key figure in these debates was Thomas Henry Huxley, an English biologist and comparative anatomist.

Frontispiece. Huxley, Thomas Henry. Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature. 1863. Digitized by Cambridge University Library as part of Charles Darwin's Library. http://s.si.edu/2inaol1.

A close friend of Charles Darwin and a staunch public supporter of the theory of natural selection, Huxley used his expertise in embryology, paleontology and comparative anatomy to demonstrate an evolutionary relationship between humans and apes. In a series of public lectures between 1860-62, he presented research on anatomical similarities between humans and apes and discussed hominin fossil discoveries, including a skullcap from the first recognized Neanderthal Man which was unearthed in Germany in 1856.

These oral discourses were collected into a single volume and published in 1863 as Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature.


Huxley, Thomas Henry. Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature. 1863. Digitized by Cambridge University Library as part of Charles Darwin's Library. Page 139. http://s.si.edu/2B12Tvx.

Paige Madison, a PhD candidate studying the history of paleoanthropology at Arizona State University, identifies this publication as a vital reference for her doctoral research.

Paige Madison, PhD candidate at Arizona State University. Photo Credit: Alex Reynes.

"This was one of the pioneering works in the history of paleoanthropology," explains Madison. "Huxley’s argumentative strategy is wonderful. At a time when it was hard to get away from preconceived notions about human evolution, Huxley asks his readers to take a step back and imagine they were visitors from Saturn, 'happily free from all personal interest.' He lays out the facts concerning humans' similarities to other apes and then asks the impartial scientific Saturnians, 'Is Man so different from any of these Apes?'"

For her dissertation, Madison is examining a series of case studies on the history of paleoanthropology spanning well over a century. This research requires examination of numerous historic publications, such as Huxley's Man's Place in Nature. Thanks to the Biodiversity Heritage Library, she has easy access to the necessary references.

"BHL has been central to my research," asserts Madison. "It allows me to quickly access a wealth of material online, so I can spend my time researching rather than running back and forth to the University library."

After first being introduced to BHL by fellow graduate students five years ago, Madison now uses the library almost weekly to access the research of key scientists in her field. By downloading entire PDFs of relevant publications or selecting specific pages using BHL's custom PDF generator, she is able to guarantee easy offline access to important references. She also uses the library to gather images, which she finds useful both for her research and when creating presentations.

"The images I can download from BHL are high quality," says Madison. "I know exactly where they came from and how they were used to illuminate a particular aspect of a scientist’s overall argument."

While she finds BHL's collections invaluable, Madison notes that the consolidation of duplicate author names would greatly improve the user experience. As a request voiced by many users, name authority control is indeed high on BHL's list of development priorities.

For Madison, exploring the history of hominin fossils and our understanding of their place in the evolution of Homo sapiens is a passion that is greatly facilitated by the Biodiversity Heritage Library. We are proud to know that BHL's open access collection is helping to illuminate the history of science to accelerate research today and empower future discoveries.

You can follow Paige Madison's research on Twitter at @FossilHistory.

By Grace Costantino 
Outreach and Communication Manager 
Biodiversity Heritage Library 

Reference

Hauserman, Samantha. 2013. "Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)." The Embryo Project Encyclopedia, November 26. Accessed December 5, 2017. https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/thomas-henry-huxley-1825-1895.

______________________________________

This post may contain the personal opinions of BHL users or affiliated staff and does not necessarily represent the official Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) position on these matters.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Digitized Field Notes Yield Rapid Reference Response!

The Harvard Botany Libraries have been fortunate to benefit from several field notes digitization projects in recent years. Materials have been selected based on condition, demand, and/or the theme of the funded project. The current CLIR-funded BHL Field Notes Project has enabled us to nearly complete the capture of field notes and plant lists associated with the herbaria collections. The most interesting and immediate benefit of the project is our ability to point users to the files that are available both in the Biodiversity Heritage Library and HOLLIS, Harvard’s online catalog.

Recent reference questions that have arrived in my inbox that would have once required searching finding aids or files, and having researchers come to review materials, can now be answered by sending links. A former curatorial staff member wrote in the fall to say that he was on his way to Bermuda to collect specimens. He asked if I could send him copies of the field notes compiled by Harvard mycologist William G. Farlow during his trips there in 1881 and 1900. The notes were already available in the BHL Field Notes collection so I dashed off an email with those links and received a big “thank you” only minutes later!
Bermuda plants, approximately 1881-1900. v.2 (1881)
https://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/53509230. Digitized by Harvard University Botany Libraries.

Another recent request came from a botanist stationed at the Horticulture Center, South China Botanical Garden, in Guangzhou, China. He was interested in anything in the archives related to Chun WoonYoung [Chen Huanyong] who collaborated with Arnold Arboretum botanists in the 1920s. While most of those materials reside in the archives at the Arnold Arboretum, I was fairly sure that we had his collecting records. Digital Projects Librarian Diane Rielinger supplied the BHL link so I forwarded it to the botanist in Guangzhou.

The most recent and surprising use of the field notes came as a referral from a colleague at the Botanical Research Institute in Fort Worth Texas. He is working with curators at the Amon Carter Art Museum of American Art on an exhibit planned for 2020. The museum has commissioned an artist to retrace the routes of 19th century naturalists throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area and reimagine their experiences. They are particularly interested in Charles Wright so we sent links to his correspondence and field notes and the curators visited the Botany Libraries in December to see the material and to view collecting tools and artifacts in the archives. They plan to return with the artist next year to continue their research. Visits from artists are not unusual, but applying field notes to an art project is a first for us. The Wright field notes, digitized as part of a previous project, will also be deposited in BHL in the near future.

Keiko Nishimoto, the Botany Libraries’ former Collection Services Archivist, prepared a small exhibit on the CLIR field notes project to promote the project to herbaria staff and visitors. The first case explained the importance of field notes, showed examples of the records in the archives, and explained why they were being digitized. The second case featured the works of women botanists Mary Strong Clemens (1873-1968), who collected in New Guinea, northern Borneo, and Sulawesi, and Rae Baldwin Kennedy (1879-1952) who worked in Bermuda.




Earlier grants allowed us to target particular collectors and expeditions, but the CLIR funds gave us the opportunity to open the document boxes and scan the bulk of the collection. Cataloging and access have been enhanced as has our knowledge of the entire collection. We look forward to sharing these resources virtually and to hosting users with both traditional and reimagined ways of using them.

Written by: 
Judy Warnement 
Librarian of Harvard University Botany Libraries

The BHL Field Notes Project is funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Contributes Annual and Investigative Reports to BHL

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has spent the past fifty years working on a complex ecological problem. The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary in Maryland, Delaware, D.C. and Virginia. While about half of its water comes from the Atlantic Ocean, the rest flows to the bay from 64,000 square miles of watershed - spanning 6 states and home to over 18 million people. Pollution from sewage, agriculture, and industry (as well as other impacts of human development) have degraded the bay’s water quality, damaging biodiversity as well as human health, economics, and recreation. Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is a private sector group using many approaches to tackle this regional issue.

Thanks to CBF’s participation in the Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature project, Annual Reports and Investigative Reports from CBF are now available on BHL. These publications document CBF’s initiatives in environmental science, restoration, education, advocacy and litigation.

CBF has contributed its Annual Reports from 2008-2014 which track the organization’s accomplishments and goals. The Investigative Reports contributed to BHL are:


Atlantic Blue Crab on the cover of the 2011 Chesapeake Bay Foundation Annual Report. Contributed to BHL by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as part of the Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature project. http://s.si.edu/2jcgOHS.

About the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

CBF has been active in coastal conservation since 1967. With offices in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and D.C., as well as fifteen field centers, it’s the largest independent conservation organization dedicated to promoting the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Infographic by Chesapeake Bay Foundation, web accessed 12/1/2017: http://www.cbf.org/about-cbf/history/decades-of-success/?referrer=http://www.cbf.org/about-cbf/history/.

Over the decades, CBF has been instrumental in organizing and sustaining inter-state conservation work. In the 1970s, CBF called for and then provided staff support to a seven-year Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Study which analyzed the state of the bay and identified contributing problems. In the 1980s, based on the study’s results, CBF participated in negotiations for the first Chesapeake Bay Agreement, a cooperative inter-state commitment to reduce pollution. Today’s goals for bay cleanup are outlined in the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, an interstate agreement that includes fairly-distributed, measurable goals as well as EPA-imposed consequences for failure to comply. CBF scientists evaluate the long-term progress of the Bay’s health by measuring indicators in three key areas: pollution, habitat, and fisheries.

CBF’s education programs bring youth into the field for hands-on learning. Kids explore wetlands by boat and learn about watershed ecology and local fishing communities. Photo courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation/cbf.org.

One of CBF’s many current projects has communities 'recycling' oyster shells. Restaurants and citizens bring their empty shells to drop-off points, where they are cleaned and then placed in tanks of swimming oyster larvae. The larvae anchor onto the shells and grow into young 'spat' oysters. Oyster gardeners place these shells in rivers and the Bay to help rebuild oyster reefs. This helps to restore the oyster population and improve water quality - one of these filter feeders can filter up to 50 gallons of water in a day.

Thanks to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for sharing their extensive work with us on the Biodiversity Heritage Library!

By Elizabeth Meyer 
Library Project Assistant 
Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University

Source 

Chesapeake Bay Foundation (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.cbf.org/

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Magnificent Crustacea: Leach and Sowerby's Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae

William Elford Leach. Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae. Title page. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00626. http://s.si.edu/2iVddtH.

Without a doubt, Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae (1815-1875) is one of the most beautiful publications dedicated to Crustacea. This work, a very special proofprint copy of which has recently been digitized and made available on BHL by the Naturalis Library, was the work of two well-known names in British natural history: the young zoologist William Elford Leach (1791-1836) and the experienced naturalist and engraver James Sowerby (1757-1822). The background and personal history of both gentlemen had a great influence on the coming about of the publication.

Illustration by James Sowerby for Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae, by William Elford Leach. Tab. XXXVI. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00732. http://s.si.edu/2Bmxmnu.

William Elford Leach 


William Elford Leach was one of the great British zoologists of the beginning of the nineteenth century. He started his career as assistant librarian at the British Museum and was responsible for the zoological collections. He was given the task of reorganizing the collections of Hans Sloane, which formed the basis of the museum.

Of the old carcinological collection, not much was left by the nineteenth century. Because of its deplorable condition, Leach's predecessors were forced to destroy much of the collection materials, and as a result, of the hundreds of crustaceans left by Sloane in the eighteenth century, only one specimen has survived to this day. The core of the current carcinological collections of the British Museum is formed by specimens collected under Leach’s supervision. Not only did material from all over the world come in through his scientific contacts, he also donated his personal collection to the museum.

Leach’s merits go beyond collection building alone. He was a gifted taxonomist with a large scientific network who was therefore aware of the developments in systematics on the European continent. He shared this knowledge with his colleagues in Great Britain, organized the collections on a more scientific basis, and wrote a series of articles about it.

The scientific names that Leach introduced were sometimes unusual and not appreciated by all. He named for instance countless genera after a certain Caroline. Leach used her (latenized) name playfully as an anagram to create genus names like Ricenela and Cirolana. Nevertheless, his work ethic was highly praised and his scientific productivity was second to none.

Sadly, Leach’s career lasted only a decade. In 1821, he suffered a nervous breakdown from which he would never recover. A year later he departed from the museum. As a thank you for the enormous collections he had left behind, he received a pension from the British Museum. He did not fare much better after that. He traveled to France and Italy and died of cholera in 1836.

James Sowerby 


Leach was a scientific innovator and brought the zoology in Great Britain to a higher level. Part of his success lay in his collaboration with a gifted artist. For the illustrations in Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae, he relied on the detailed and colorful imagination of James Sowerby.

Portrait of James Sowerby, by Thomas Heaphy. 1816. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/James_Sowerby#/media/File:James_Sowerby_by_Heaphy_(1816).jpg.

Sowerby was well known because of his extensive contributions to botanical masterpieces such as A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland.

Unlike most of his contemporaries, he was an artist who actively engaged in scientific work. He maintained correspondence with naturalists and urged them to send material that he could use for detailed studies. The colors that Sowerby used in his work are vivid and meant to appeal to a large audience. In 1809, he published a theory in which he stated that the basic colors red, yellow and blue offer all possibilities for botanical, zoological and geological imagination because these colors were given by nature.

Gold-plated Crabs and The Special Collection of Bibliotheca Carcinologica 


The Bibliotheca Carcinologica, a unique collection in the Naturalis Library of approximately 8,000 publications and a large reprint collection, holds two special copies of Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae. This collection was amassed by a former curator, Lipke Bijdeley Holthuis (1921-2008), who for more than half a century was the leading expert in his field of crustacean taxonomy. He was particularly interested in collecting books that had been handed down by his famous predecessors.

L.B. Holthuis presented with his book (co-authored by Pietsch) about Lamotius. Photo: T.W. Pietsch, 2007, retouched by B. Kroonenberg.

The Bibliotheca Carcinologica’s first copy of Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae was specially bound for the British collector Henry Arthus Johnstone. It features a band of green morocco decorated with gilded crabs and Johnstone’s coat of arms.

Private binding from the library of Henry Arthur Johnstone for William Elford Leach's Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00626.

Private binding from the library of Henry Arthur Johnstone for William Elford Leach's Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00626.

Johnstone's library contained much natural history and was sold in its entirety to a London bookseller in 1921. Subsequently, the books have spread all over the world.

A beautiful binding and a good provenance are of course desirable, but for Holthuis it was of greater importance that a copy was complete, and that in addition all information that provides insight into the publication’s history was preserved. At the back of Johnstone's copy of Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae are the covers of the original seventeen plus the two later issues, revealing exact publication dates and an alternate original title, as well as providing insight into the intention of William Elford Leach with regards to the publication.

On the cover of the first issue, Leach wrote that he wanted to publish twelve or fourteen episodes. He asked British naturalists to help make the publication as complete as possible and encouraged them to accurately analyze all the 'rubbish' that dredgers collected from the seabed. Apparently, his call was successful, because on the cover of the thirteenth issue, Leach indicates that the discovery of new species made it impossible to complete the work in fourteen episodes. The new goal was to complete it within eighteen or nineteen episodes.

Illustration by James Sowerby for Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae, by William Elford Leach. Tab. XXIA. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00732.http://s.si.edu/2ysE5H4.

After the seventeenth episode that appeared on March 1, 1820, the publication ceased. Leach was unable to continue his work after his breakdown. Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae was finally completed by George Brettinham Sowerby (1812-1884) over half a century later after the publisher Bernard Quaritch had bought up the stock remnants. Quaritch was sensitive to the wish of James Sowerby's descendant to finish the publication according to the original plan. In one additional episode published in 1875 as nos. XVIII and XIX, six more plates plus a beautiful plate of a European lobster (Homarus gammarus), which had previously been unfinished, were published.

European lobster (Homarus gammarus). G.B. Sowerby, Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae. Tab. XXXV. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00732. http://s.si.edu/2nRuVnp.


Printing Proofs 


More than thirty years after Holthuis had acquired the fine copy from the library of Henry Arthur Johnstone, he bought a very expensive complete set of nineteen separate episodes of Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae. On the surface, it is not immediately clear why he would do this: after all, the copy he already had in his possession was complete, with all of the plates and the original covers of the episodes. Further analysis shows that this second copy purchased by Holthuis represents the proofs that William Elford Leach used to provide direction for the publication. On plate XXXIX, for example, he writes: 'Can the rostrum be the added to this plate?'

Proof print. Illustration by James Sowerby for Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae, by William Elford Leach. Tab. XXXIX. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00732. http://s.si.edu/2AvYOQ0.

The rostrum is a pointed, forward-looking deformity of the armor of a crustacean, which sometimes provides usable distinctive indication for taxonomic classification. No wonder Leach asked Sowerby if he could show that in detail. On the plate in Johnstone's copy of the title, the rostrum of Spirontocaris spinus is indeed added.

William Elford Leach, Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae. Tab. XXXIX. Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University. http://s.si.edu/2kpJ46u.

Other instructions from Leach have also been neatly followed up. The proofs have no direct meaning for the nomenclature; after all, these are unpublished trials with no published names. However, they do provide a good insight into the way Leach and Sowerby worked together and which colors they had in mind.

This unique proofprint copy has recently been digitized for BHL by the Naturalis Library. You can explore it in BHL for free.

Illustration by James Sowerby for Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae, by William Elford Leach. Tab. XXX. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00732. http://s.si.edu/2kti99F.

Naturalis Library 


The library holds a large collections of scientific, taxonomic literature on zoology, geology, botany and palaeontology. It caters to everyone interested in researching biodiversity, geodiversity and evolution. The library is almost 200 years old and contains around 200,000 books, journals, drawings, prints, icones and many other archived materials.

This blog is largely based on the chapter: Alex Alsemgeest, 'Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae: de drukproeven van het mooiste kreeftenboek. In: A. Alsemgeest en C. Fransen (eds.), In krabbengang door kreeftenboeken: de Bibliotheca Carcinologica L.B. Holthuis (Leiden: Naturalis Biodiversity Center, 2016), p. 123-127.

By Godard Tweehuysen 
Naturalis Library
library@naturalis.nl

Friday, December 8, 2017

From Dayton to Cambridge and Back Again: the field notes of August F. Foerste

Field notes are well known to be essential, primary material that provide details about collections and expeditions that aren’t found in published material or specimen labels. Field notes can also contain diary entries, poems, and sketches which give insight into the lives of the researchers themselves. And now, we can add the candy preferences of August F. Foerste to those insights.

In his Specimen notebook, Ohio, 1887-1888, with no explanation, we find a list of several different candy recipes, including chocolate creams, lemon drops, and Neapolitan creams. Brings up quite a few questions. Who gave him the recipes? Was this the only paper he had available to write them down? Did he try to make them? Why is there a sugar syrup recipe at the end of the chocolate cream recipe with no explanation as to what to do with it? (This last one, admittedly, is more a personal inquiry of mine.)


Specimen notebook, Ohio, 1887-1888.
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/229964

What we can determine is that they were written down in 1888 when Foerste was completing his master’s degree at Harvard University. In fact, on the facing page, pictured above, we see a note about Harvard’s collections, in particular “microscopic studies of bryozoan, sections of corals, dissected specimens of crinoids, [and] sections of brachiopoda shells.” So while he may have been briefly distracted by confection, he was still focused on his studies. In that same notebook, Foerste includes several illustrations of specimens.

Specimen notebook, Ohio, 1887-1888.
https://biodiversitylibrary.org/item/229964

Foerste was a native of Dayton, Ohio. Like many naturalists, his early interests in science came about from wandering around town and taking note of the fossils, geological formations and stratigraphy of the local area. He completed his bachelor's degree at Denison University before continuing his studies in Cambridge, Mass. While at Harvard, Foesrte also served as part-time assistant with the United States Geological Survey. As part of the survey, he studied the stratigraphy and petrography of New England.
Illustration by Foerste while in Vermont for the U.S. Geological Survey. Foerste was also studying at Harvard at the time.
Field notes, New England, undated. https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/54118346

After graduating with his Ph.D, Foesrte would return to his hometown, spending most of his career as a teacher at Steele High School. During the summer breaks, he would go out into the field for the U.S. Geological Survey. As part of the BHL Field Notes Project, Smithsonian Institution Archives has digitized many of these notes. In 1932, he was appointed as Associate in Paleontology for the U.S. National Museum (now the National Museum of Natural History) until his death in 1936.

We are excited to share Foerste's field notes as part of the BHL Field Notes Project. You can view these and other notebooks by Foerste in BHL. And if anyone gives those confection recipes a try, be sure to share with us!


Written by 
Adriana Marroquin 
Project Manager, BHL Field Notes Project and Smithsonian Field Book Project 

The BHL Field Notes Project is funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). 

Sources: 
Finding Aid for "Record Unit 7242, Foerste, Aug. F,(Aug. Frederic),1862-1936, Aug. F. (Aug. Frederic) Foerste Papers, 1887-1933 and undated

"August F. Foerste." Centreville-Washington History.  

For a transcribed copy of the recipes, check out the Smithsonian Field Book Project's 2012 Holiday Card, designed by Lesley Parilla.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Art of Herpetology: Schlegel's Reptiles and Amphibians

Schlegel, H. (Hermann). Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien. 1837-1844. Atlas digitized by Smithsonian Libraries. http://s.si.edu/2AYBgPF.

German ornithologist and herpetologist Hermann Schlegel hoped that the publication of good illustrations would stimulate public interest in reptiles and amphibians. Thus, he produced Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibian (1837-44).

Schlegel, H. (Hermann). Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien. 1837-1844. Atlas digitized by Smithsonian Libraries. http://s.si.edu/2jLkYGC.

Schlegel, who eventually became director of the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden (Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie), is best-known for his research on birds, but his initial interest was in herpetology. Inspired by other beautifully-illustrated natural history books that had aroused public interest in their subjects, Schlegel compiled this work comprised of an atlas of 50 color plates and a short volume of text. Although the title mentions only amphibians, it describes and illustrates many reptile species as well.

It is unclear why the book's title does not also mention reptiles. It has been suggested that the work's original scope may have intended to cover only amphibians, and that the title was not adjusted after the scope broadened. This, however, is merely conjecture.

Schlegel, H. (Hermann). Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien. 1837-1844. Atlas digitized by Smithsonian Libraries. http://s.si.edu/2jcxafn.

Unfortunately, the names of the artists who produced the drawings upon which these plates are based are unknown. Schlegel mentioned only that he received the illustrations from painters working in India.

Schlegel, H. (Hermann). Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien. 1837-1844. Atlas digitized by Smithsonian Libraries. http://s.si.edu/2zaEmj2.

The text volume of this work was digitized by Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University. The atlas was digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

Schlegel, H. (Hermann). Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien. 1837-1844. Atlas digitized by Smithsonian Libraries. http://s.si.edu/2hQxOmb.

Schlegel, H. (Hermann). Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien. 1837-1844. Atlas digitized by Smithsonian Libraries. http://s.si.edu/2jcoLbU.

Reference:
Stiassny, Melanie L.J. (2014). Schlegel's Guide to Amphibians. Natural Histories Opulent Oceans: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library. New York: Sterling Publishing.