Field Books Through the Ages: A Visual Timeline - Field Book Project

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Friday, 25 May 2012


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This might be my favorite blog post so far. Keep up the good work!


I worked as an archivist at the Sedgwick Museum of earth sciences in Cambridge for a while, so I got to go through some notebooks by some really famous geologists, like J. E. Marr and Thomas McKenny Hughes. So I was really excited and was hoping to see hints on how to take good notes and see their thought process; after all, Marr literally worked out most of the geology of the lake district, some of the most complicated in the British isles. Needless to say, I was really disappointed in them! They were just pages and pages of barely legible pencil scrawl, with the occasional barebones sketch. They committed all three cardinal sins of geological note taking, namely forgetting the name, scale and orientation of a lot of the sketches and data. Instead, they treated it much more of a diary, talking about the evening in the pub the previous night and the weather and so on. In a way though, I can see how it worked, acting more as a stream of consciousness and helping to organise their thoughts.

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Field Book Project Website

The Field Book Project is an initiative to increase accessibility to field book content that documents natural history. Through ongoing partnerships within and beyond the Smithsonian Institution, the Project is making field books easier to find and available in a digital format for current research, as well as inspiring new ways of utilizing these rich information resources.
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