Connecting Content: The Wonderful World of Field Books
The California Academy of Sciences and our partners (all of whom are also BHL member institutions) are in the midst of a 3 year IMLS National Leadership Grant titled "Connecting Content: A Collaboration to Link Field Notes to Specimens and Published Literature." This project aims to digitize published scientific findings, their related field books and specimens, and metadata for these items, link all of these resources, and make them available for harvesting, reuse, and repurposing without cost. At this point, the bulk of the field books selected for this project have been digitized and made available through the Biodiversity Heritage Library. (*You can see the sixty-one titles digitized for this project by searching for “Connecting Content” in the BHL search box.) You can download a selection of these field book for free via the latest BHL iTunes U Collection: Connecting Content through Archival Field Notes.
Field books (or field notes) are the original documents which chronicle specimen collection and the events and observations that led to scientific discovery. Field books are unique unto the creator and vary greatly from book to book. Here are a selection of highlights from the collection which demonstrate the wealth of information and styles found throughout the selection of field books:
|Page One. A diary of a journey in California and Nevada. William Whitman Bailey.|
|Portuguese Man of War. Bailey.|
|Riccinus communis. Bailey.|
However, this tragic setback did not lessen Bailey’s enthusiasm for adventure and curiosity about the natural world. Bailey would eventually study under Dr. Asa Gray at Harvard University and at 24 years old, he became the botanist for the United States Geological Exploration of the 40th Parallel. The field book for this expedition chronicles Bailey’s journey through California and Nevada in a flowing prosaic style with beautiful illustrations and photographs of Bailey’s observations. The very first page of Bailey’s journal opens with a beautiful demonstration of his illustrative pen and ink style. Bailey’s rich descriptions are paired with exquisite drawings that seem to jump off the page whether he is waxing poetic about the Portuguese Man of War or closely observing the leaf of the Riccinus communis. Bailey’s flowing narrative style and gorgeous illustrations make this field book a charming and informative look at the exploration of the 40th parallel that will surely captivate readers.
|Charles Island. Ochsner.|
|Eggs and Nests. Brewster.|
All of the field books digitized for the Connecting Content project offer inimitable insight into how scientific data is gathered, synthesized, and extrapolated. It is the hope that by sharing these unique resources, researchers can better understand scientific findings and that the insights gained from this will promote further inquiry and the spirit of discovery.
Connecting Content Project Manager | Archives and Digital Collections Assistant Librarian
California Academy of Sciences
Want more Field Book Content?
View 61 field books digitized by the Connecting Content grant in BHL
Download a selection of these books for free on iTunes U
Find out more about the link between expeditions, field books, and publications in our previous blog posts with Smithsonian's Field Book Project: Post One | Post Two | Post Three