By Carolyn Sheffield
The Field Book Project is pleased to announce that catalog records describing thousands of Smithsonian field books—including those we’ve blogged about here—are now available online through the Smithsonian’s Collection Search Center: http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=unit_code%3AFBR&tag.cstype=all.
The launch of these records represents the first time they have been publicly available. Altogether, these records describe 6,679 field books comprising 542 collections housed at the Smithsonian Institution. A subset of these records includes digital images of field books for viewing alongside the records. In addition to the detailed catalog records, there are also 927 authority files providing biographical and historical details for the persons, organizations, and expeditions involved in the creation of these field books. A few months back, supervisory archivist Tammy Peters blogged about the significance of these records and the veritable social network they form between collaborators, co-participants on expeditions, and institutional affiliations.
Take for instance Frederick Vernon Coville, a botanist and blueberry breeder, who was the subject of one of our very first blog posts. Looking at Coville’s authority file will tell you more about his life and career. Use the file as a springboard to find information on collections related to him, as well as detailed descriptions about field books within those collections. From those field book records, access links for expeditions Coville participated in, such as the Harriman Alaska Expedition (1899). These links allow you to view field books related to Coville’s expeditions or view records about those expeditions. From the expedition records, links are provided to learn more about other participants of that expedition and the field books they created.
We hope you’ll take a look around, search for some of the scientists you’re familiar with, navigate through their collections and field books, and explore materials created by some of their collaborators.
Not sure where to start? Browse any of our blog posts by discipline to find a person or topic of interest. Be sure to try out the tagging option in Collections Search, too. And by all means, let us know what you think!