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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Interconnected Naturalist : Edmund Heller and the Field Notes Project

By Adriana Marroquin
Project Manager, BHL Field Notes Project 

One of the great aspects of the BHL Field Notes Project is how the field notes we are digitizing – and the naturalists who created them – have connections to multiple project partners. Edmund Heller is one of these interconnected naturalists.

Heller was a naturalist active in the early twentieth century who participated in several expeditions sponsored by different institutions across the nation, including a number of BHL Field Notes Project partners. He traveled with Theodore Roosevelt for the Smithsonian African Expedition, traveled to Asia with Roy Chapman Andrews of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), served as a collector for the Field Museum, joined Hiram Bingham on Yale University and National Geographic Society's Expedition in the Andes of Peru, and collected in Alaska with noted collector Annie Alexander, who proposed and helped establish the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley.
A map Heller drew while on Roy Chapman Andrews’ expedition to the Chinese province of Yunnan, Tibet, and Burma. Handwritten China journal of Edmund Heller (1 of 5). (1916).  http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/52109645
Field notes from Heller’s time as part of Yale University and National Geographic Society’s Expedition in the Andes of Peru. List of birds collected by Heller in Peru. (1915). http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/52088223

Since Heller moved around from institution to institution, participating in what he referred to as an “unequaled record of expeditions,” he is a classic example of a naturalist with field notebooks all over the map. Through the Field Notes Project, we have the opportunity to bring together parts of his collection. Nine of Heller’s notebooks are currently available in the BHL, contributed by Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA). More of his notebooks will be digitized by SIA and AMNH by project end.

In the meantime, why not explore Heller’s work in the BHL?

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

Further Reading:
Where are Heller’s Field Books? – Field Book Project Blog

Expedition Connection: National Geographic Society Yale University Peruvian Expedition, 1915 – Biodiversity Heritage Library Blog

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