Eye-catching photos, drawings and clippings: a few highlights from the BHL Field Notes Project

The Field Notes Project collection is now over 400 items strong! We are excited by our progress and to share these field books to the global natural history community. For our feature this month, I would like to highlight some of the unexpected or eye-catching pages our digitization teams have come across so far.

This photo of a dune structure initially caught my eye because it’s a great looking photo, but then I noticed the bike for scale and it was even more impressive than it already was! The accompanying caption notes the structure is just north of Pembroke Marsh in Bermuda.

This newspaper clipping was also inserted in one of Charles Schuchert’s field books. The other side of the page has an article about the completion of the Florida East Coast Railway to Key West, but the true star is this piece on the latest New York dance craze, The Turkey Trot.

The cover of this summary takes advantage of the American Museum of Natural History’s pre-printed address labels. The illustrated horse and human look like the skeletal version of a 18th-century battle painting. That’s bit war heavy, so I’d like to think they are just really excited to collect in the field!

George Engelmann’s field books have a number of illustrations, but I find myself coming back to this small cactus for no other reason than it’s a cute little drawing.

This notebook from Joseph Grinnell’s college years may not be initially eye catching, but considering his famed note-taking style, I knew it would be intriguing upon reading. I found he could be very expressive in style in his diary entries. In this page he notes seeing a Parkman’s wren and how it was “hollering for all it’s worth.” I wonder if the wren ever found the mate he was surely trying to attract. In the next entry he shows great pleasure in the clear, warm weather. Considering it was March in Los Angeles County, I can imagine it was “fine collecting weather” indeed.

There’s plenty more to discover in the BHL Field Notes Collection. Let us know what piques your interest!

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

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Adriana Marroquin is the project manager for the Biodiversity Heritage Library Field Notes Project and the Smithsonian Field Book Project. She previously served as a library technician at Smithsonian Libraries and as a contractor for two projects: the American Art and Portrait Gallery library’s Art & Artist Corporate Files Database and BHL’s Latino Natural History exhibition.