Poster Session

Start Date

3-4-2013 12:45 PM

End Date

3-4-2013 1:45 PM

Description

Field notebooks are a gold mine of unpublished observations, journal notes, sketches, weather reports, specimen lists and travel narratives: these records are primary source data at its most raw and unevaluated. Historical collections of field notes may be the only documentation of a scientist’s thought processes, ideas and observations, particularly if only some of the material was ever published. As part of an IMLS National Leadership grant, the field notes of William Brewster, a highly published ornithologist working during the late 19th and early 20th centuries were digitized and made accessible via the Biodiversity Heritage Library portal. Along with digitizing specimens and other archival materials related to William Brewster, the notebooks allow easy access to his detailed notes and pioneering work in ornithology. The presentation of these notebooks enhances contemporary studies and makes the entire research cycle of this scientist’s work available for analysis by historians of science, scientists, social scientists and humanists or anyone interested in the process of discovery, by creating a richer and more interactive history of science resource. Who knows what ornithological preconceptions might be reconsidered if this body of work is fully available to contemporary researchers and citizen scientists? The purpose of this poster is to demonstrate the connections among Brewster’s field notes, specimens he collected, the publications that were the result of his work and current research, thus making a case for the value of archival research.

Keywords

digital library, biodiversity heritage library, data mining, field notebooks

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Apr 3rd, 12:45 PM Apr 3rd, 1:45 PM

Primary Source Material in Science: The Importance of Archival Field Notes

Field notebooks are a gold mine of unpublished observations, journal notes, sketches, weather reports, specimen lists and travel narratives: these records are primary source data at its most raw and unevaluated. Historical collections of field notes may be the only documentation of a scientist’s thought processes, ideas and observations, particularly if only some of the material was ever published. As part of an IMLS National Leadership grant, the field notes of William Brewster, a highly published ornithologist working during the late 19th and early 20th centuries were digitized and made accessible via the Biodiversity Heritage Library portal. Along with digitizing specimens and other archival materials related to William Brewster, the notebooks allow easy access to his detailed notes and pioneering work in ornithology. The presentation of these notebooks enhances contemporary studies and makes the entire research cycle of this scientist’s work available for analysis by historians of science, scientists, social scientists and humanists or anyone interested in the process of discovery, by creating a richer and more interactive history of science resource. Who knows what ornithological preconceptions might be reconsidered if this body of work is fully available to contemporary researchers and citizen scientists? The purpose of this poster is to demonstrate the connections among Brewster’s field notes, specimens he collected, the publications that were the result of his work and current research, thus making a case for the value of archival research.

 

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