It’s hard for us to tell - which means it’s a perfect #MondayMindmelter candidate - but was someone ELSE writing in Spencer Baird’s Atlas? 

Right now, at the tail end of our Contribute&Connect challenge, there are only TWO pages that need to be reviewed - if we wrap it up, we’ll go behind-the-scenes at Smithsonian Institution Archives!

Give us your opinion on whether these middle lines were written by a different hand than those at the top and bottom. What do you think? Was someone going rogue in the Index of Correspondence?

Mary Agnes Chase’s Field Work in Brazil, Image No. 1931. Serra da Gramma [sic]. Dr. Rolfs, jungly bamboo slope between fazendo and Araponga. by Smithsonian Institution on Flickr.

Really, Dr. Rolfs, is that the best way to go? Up the jungly bamboo slope? It’s awful jungly is all, Dr. Rolfs. Frightfully jungly. Your way is beset with staggering amounts of jung!

Elizabeth Lee Hazen (1888-1975) and Rachel Brown (1898-1980) [x] 

In 1950, microbiologist Elizabeth Lee Hazen (1888-1975) and chemist Rachel Brown (1898-1980), Division of Laboratories and Research, New York State Department of Health, Albany, developed an effective antifungal agent (nystatin) for yeast infections. This photograph was distributed in 1955 when Hazen and Brown were given the first Squibb Award for achievements in chemotherapy. 

Calytrocarya [sic] by Smithsonian Institution

Local number: SIA2012-3890

Summary: SIA Acc. 12-045, Box 1, Folder 2; From opposing page: “Nome bot.: Calytrocarya [sic]; Lugar: ‘Fabrica’ Rio Moju; Terrenos que prefere: Mattas, 2 e 3 degran, Barro e tabatinga; Fórma de crescimento: Touceiras pequenas”. This photograph is included in the field notes of André Goeldi and part of a collection that includes 36 black-and-white photographs of specimens. André Goeldi was a Brazilian botanist who collected in Pará, Brazil, circa 1913-1920.

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives

View more collections from the Smithsonian Institution.

She Blinded Me with Science - Writing Women in Science (back) into Wikipedia

We’ve spent the day with Smithsonian Institution Archives writing women in science (back) into Wikipedia. The event builds on previous years’ work, including edit-a-thons and the work of transcribing volunteers.

We have created articles for women (re)discovered through transcription and living science practitioners at the smithsonian. There’s still much work to be done but you can learn about our day below.

First we heard from Dr. Marcel LaFollette on the depiction and interpretation of women scientists in the Science Service photo morgue collection held by Smithsonian Institution Archives. Watch her discussion here and read more about Dr. LaFollette’s research here.

Then we saw a draft of James Smithson’s will, the work of women in science, and beautiful sketches, thanks to Chief Archivist Tammy Peters. See these artifacts here

Finally, we learned from Deputy Chief of the Media & Technology at Smithsonian American Art Museum on the best practices and principles of editing Wikipedia. Listen in here and find her slides here

Here are some of the women in science who now have articles:

Women in Science Wednesday!

Industrialist Vivien Kellems (1896-1975), the only woman manufacturer in the electrical industry at the time, co-founded Kellems Cable Grips Inc., in 1927, with her brother, who patented a special grip design widely used in construction, electrical connections, and medicine.#Groundbreaker

More from Smithsonian Institution Archives


It’s time for another Contribute & Connect! This time around, we are featuring the second secretary of the Smithsonian Institution: Spencer Fullerton Baird and his Index of Correspondence

There are 3 parts to the campaign:

  1. Completely transcribe and review Baird’s Index of Correspondence
  2. Upon completion of Baird’s Index, you'll UNLOCK the diary of one of Baird’s correspondents. Who will it be? Watch this space (and Twitter & Facebook) for more details. With these projects, you’ll have a window into how the Smithsonian’s early professional social network was established, using telegraph and scientific observations from around the world. 
  3. Connect with us here at the Smithsonian via a Google+ Hangout on Air (like this one) to get behind-the-scenes knowledge about Baird from Pam Henson, the director of the Institutional History Division of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Here’s the catch: you only have 2 weeks!  If you contribute to help push the Index to completion, you will get a special invitation to participate in the behind-the-scenes webcast.  Otherwise, you’ll miss out on a fantastic opportunity to learn about Baird and early Smithsonian history from the esteemed and entertaining Pam Henson, the director of the Institutional History Division of the Smithsonian Institution Archives!

Unidentified child with tiger cub photographed during the the National Geographic Society-Smithsonian Institution Expedition to the Dutch East Indies, 1937 by Smithsonian Institution on Flickr.

Look at the photo. Consider what has has just happened here, or what is about to happen here. Who has been here? Who will come here and and what will they do? What kinds of interactions can you imagine? Write one leaf about these or other things that occur to you upon looking at the picture. Do not allow yourself to be limited by what you see. Go.

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A guest post describing the selection and value of Allard’s field notes from Ricc Ferrante, Director of Digital Services and IT Archivist, Smithsonian Institution Archives. 

To date, the Smithsonian Institution Archives has launched almost 400 transcription projects in the Smithsonian Transcription Center, asking digital #volunpeers to help to make these primary source materials more accessible to researchers and scholars. Many of them have been scientific field notebooks, each of them unique.

Often, transcription projects are selected because of the value and significance of the material, together with the previous interest from researchers. Occasionally, material is considered for transcription at the direct request of a scholar of researcher who then helps in the transcription.

From a transcriber’s viewpoint, projects often fall into categories: narrative prose such as journals, diaries and correspondence; fielded data such as astronomical notations or specimen-specific data; lists such as ledgers, lists of specimens; and so on. Legibility, presence of scientific or geographic names, poor contrast between writing and paper – all of these factor into how challenging a given project is. Simpler projects complete rapidly. Challenging projects like Allard’s field books or Benjamin Dann Walsh’s two volume “Journal of Facts in Natural History” often take many months to reach completion. And that’s okay.

Harry A. Allard’s field notes were selected as transcription project material for former reasons – significance, historical value and previous researcher interest. Allard himself is an important historical figure in the botanical field, have established the fundamental botanical law of photoperiodism together with Wightman Garner. His lengthy and detailed work in the piedmont region of Virginia and West Virginia did much to advance the understanding of that region as well as inform his many publications. The U.S. Herbarium holds over 14,000 of his specimens. The Hunt Institute, the University of North Carolina and other organizations also hold primary source materials documenting his work and life. Being able to link more of the information Allard capture at the time he gathered a specimen provides useful data that moves the whole field of study forward.

You can join Smithsonian Institution Archives’s projects here and dig into more behind-the-collections insights on their blog, The Bigger Picture

Image credit: Henry A. Allard, Book no. 2, H.A. Allard, field collection specimen no. 1711-3420, Smithsonian Institution Archives, SIA Acc. 11-099.