|Page from "Two notebooks of Frederick William True containing field notes and daily entries on seals and other wildlife on St. Paul Island, Kelaire, Lukannan, Polovina, Tolstoi, and St. George's Island, Alaska." SIA RU007181 Frederick William True Papers, circa 1886-1910.|
During this month of February, the Smithsonian Field Book Project is celebrating Frederick William True, who worked at the Smithsonian from 1881 until 1914 and held a variety of positions during his career, including Smithsonian Librarian, Curator of the Division of Mammals, Executive Curator of the United States National Museum, Head Curator of the Department of Biology, and Assistant Secretary in charge of the Library and International Exchange Service. True is an outstanding example of the deep connections among what may seem like separate Departments, Divisions, and units at the Smithsonian, which still exist even today.
His field books showcase the close associations True embodied: today, one is held by the Division of Mammals, one by the Division of Birds, one by the Department of Paleobiology, and six by the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Through the Field Book Project, these and other field books can be reunited, digitally and online through the Biodiversity Heritage Library and Smithsonian Collections Search Center.
This month, in collaboration with its partners, the Field Book Project will be coordinating a series of blogs about FW True’s life and contributions to science. These blogs will provide a background for and culminate in a Smithsonian Transcription Center #FWTrueLove challenge, beginning on Valentine’s Day, to engage interested audiences and Volunpeers in True’s written legacy and see how much we can transcribe in as little as one week! Nick Pyenson, Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals, will help to lead the challenge by engaging with the Volunpeers on social media and providing additional information as the Volunpeers make their way through True’s materials. Details about that challenge, including the special Kellogg Library collections tour (featuring items actually touched by F. W. True!) Dr. Pyenson will offer to those who participate, will be released later this month on the Field Book Project blog. Again, the blog series will begin on this Thursday, February 5th, and the Transcription Challenge on Saturday, February 14th. Stay tuned and please join in the fun!
This celebration is a collaborative effort between multiple Smithsonian units and departments, including the Smithsonian Institution Archives, the Smithsonian Libraries and Biodiversity Heritage Library, the Smithsonian Transcription Center, and the NMNH Department of Paleobiology in order to showcase the unique breadth and depth of the archival science materials here at the Institution.