By Lesley Parilla, Field Book Project Cataloger
The Field Book Project is excited to introduce its latest Flickr set, selected from the field photographs of E. W. Nelson and E. A. Goldman. Images document Nelson and Goldman’s years of field work in Mexico. The set complements transcription projects in Smithsonian’s Transcription Center.
|Smithsonian Institution Archives. RU 7364 ,Edward William Nelson and Edward Alphonso Goldman Collection, circa 1873-1946 and undated. SIA2014-03597.|
The Field Book Project has documented the papers of several scientists who worked closely together for periods of time, or had long associations, but few seem as closely linked as Edward William Nelson and Edward Alphonso Goldman. My first introduction to Nelson and Goldman was while cataloging in the Division of Mammals, at National Museum of Natural History. A researcher was in the archive verifying Nelson and Goldman specimen numbers. I was amazed to realize that for the period of time that they collected together, even their names were combined in their specimen numbering system.
|Smithsonian Institution Archives. RU 7364, Edward William Nelson and Edward Alphonso Goldman Collection, circa 1873-1946 and undated. SIA2014-03202.|
Nelson and Goldman worked for the US Biological Survey and together are known for their field work in Mexico, 1892-1906. The partnership that would prove so important to both men began, when Nelson went on a new assignment to the San Joaquin Valley for the US Biological Survey. He had recently completed work on the Expedition to Death Valley, and was heading through California when the singletree on his buckboard wagon broke. Nelson met a rancher (Goldman’s father) who assisted with the repair. As the two talked, they discovered a shared interest in natural sciences. During the course of conversation, Nelson mentioned the need of an assistant. Goldman’s father suggested his 18-year-old son who was working at a vineyard in Fresno, California. Goldman sent for his son. This first meeting must have gone well; Goldman accepted the position as Nelson’s assistant, leaving his current job where he made $56 a month, with board included, to work for Nelson for $30 a month plus board which Nelson paid out of his own salary.
|Smithsonian Institution Archives. RU 7364, Edward William Nelson and Edward Alphonso Goldman Collection, circa 1873-1946 and undated. SIA2014-03153.|
After a trial period collecting together in the San Joaquin Valley proved satisfactory, Nelson and Goldman made their first joint collecting trip into western Mexico. The trip was to take 3 months, but lasted four years. In 1892, Goldman received a federal appointment as assistant field agent, through Nelson’s recommendation. Eventually they would jointly collect for 14 years.
Young, Stanley P. (1947). “ Edward Alphonso Goldman: 1873-1946).” Journal of Mammalogy. 28 (2). Retrieved from http://vertebrates.si.edu/birds/Hall_of_fame/InMemoriamPDFs/Goldman.pdf
Goldman, E. A. (1935). “Edward William Nelson – Naturalist. “ The Auk: Quarterly Journal of Ornithology. 52 (2). Retrieved from http://vertebrates.si.edu/birds/Hall_of_fame/InMemoriamPDFs/Nelson.pdf