By Lesley Parilla, Field Book Project
Since beginning the Field Book Project we have been actively creating blog posts, flickr sets, and other social media to share with people what wonderful and diverse information field books include. The materials we’ve shared through social media have been intended to shed light on the Project’s process and progress locating, identifying, and describing field books to enable researchers to use the biodiversity documentation that they contain.
Over the last few months, it has come to my attention that the materials we’ve posted have inspired more than just natural history research. I shouldn’t really be surprised; documentation seems to cover just about every aspect of life. We’ve found poetry, artwork, cocktail and food recipes, in addition to the maps and detailed field work narratives one would expect.
It seems that the idea of “field notes” extends well beyond natural history. Over the last two years I’ve found some surprising examples of this. If you search Google for “field notes” of “field work” you will find that many professions use the phrase at one time or other to denote documentation of practical experience. I’ve even found field notes from bartenders.
If this term can relate to so many professions, I shouldn’t be surprised that field book content can be inspiring in equally diverse ways. One of my favorites is a website called Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure that has a series of original stories inspired by photographs from field books (as we tend to think of them) that were posted on Flickr.
A former intern from the Botany Department at National Museum of Natural History was inspired to create artwork based on Sir John Kirk’s field book from the Russell E. Train Africana collection housed at the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library in the National Museum of Natural History.
And this is just what we know about…
We’ve used field books as inspiration for lesson plans distributed during the last two Smithsonian Teacher’s Nights. There’s amazing amount of rich material in field books, a lot of potential inspiration for natural history research and beyond. Has field book content inspired you? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!