Challenge Focus: G. Arthur Cooper

We’re so excited that our #FossilStories Citizen Science Challenge was successfully completed on October 12, with 252 pages from 9 field books fully transcribed and reviewed in just 3.5 days! Be sure to tune into the behind-the-scenes tour of Smithsonian fossil collections with Dr. Nicholas Pyenson, Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, via the BHL Periscope on October 26 as a reward for the successful completion of the challenge. More details to come on Twitter and Facebook.

Several of the field books that have been transcribed as part of the challenge are from G. Arthur Cooper. Cooper (1902-2000) was a paleobiologist at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and a recognized authority on the taxonomy and stratigraphy of Paleozoic brachiopods. Cooper worked at the Smithsonian, 1930 – 1974, first as assistant curator in the U.S. National Museum, later progressing through the ranks, becoming chairman of the Department of Paleobiology.  The Field Book Project includes records for 105 field books documenting his extensive field work in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. During his many years with the Museum, he amassed a fossil collection numbering in the thousands, now housed in the Paleobiology department, often part of the stratigraphic, Mollusca, or Bryozoa collections. His digitized field books document his work during the 1950’s and 60’s.

During the #FossilFossick challenge, volunteers found great connections between the work documented in the field book and outside resources. Take, for instance:

Thanks to all of our volunteers for the awesome connections they made as part of this challenge! Stay tuned to our blog tomorrow for more highlights from the challenge!

To learn more, check out his publications and field books in BHL, as well as his field books and images on Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center.

You can also see interviews with Dr. Cooper on the Smithsonian Institution Archives’ YouTube channel! Find out how he prepared and photographed fossil specimens (below) and see how fossil specimens are etched out of a rock.

Be sure to follow #FossilStories on Twitter and Facebook all week for more great fossil fun and more highlights from our #FossilFossick Challenge!

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Lesley Parilla is a Cataloging and Bibliographic Access Librarian at the Smithsonian Libraries. Previously, she served as the Cataloging Coordinator for The Field Book Project at Smithsonian Libraries.