The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Let’s Play the Name Game: Identifying Women Scientists on the Flickr Commons
For the past four years, the Smithsonain Institution Archives has honored Women’s History Month by publishing images of women in science to The Commons on Flickr. Among those, we include a selection that offer very little in the way of identification. Often times, with no name at all. To accompany this selection, we also call upon the Flickr Commons community to share their brilliant research skills and help expand on these skimpy image descriptions.
Following the success of previous years, this year was no different. Of the initial fifteen unidentified (or partially identified) images, the Smithsonian Institution Archives has officially updated the records of seven Women in Science images (pictured in the slideshow above), thanks to your help!
With each new comment added, so grew the excitement of the Archives staff working closely with these images. I would even gamble to say, these fellow colleagues start off with a favorite and silently root for her recognition. (Speaking of gambling, for future calls, we should place pseudo bets on which woman will be identified first! However, let it be stated, gambling is an unhealthy distraction for the workplace. And this concludes our impromptu PSA . . . I digress.)
Our supervisory archivist, Tammy Peters, was especially thrilled about the identification of Bertha Parker Pallan [Cody] (1907-1978) provided by Flickr member, Pixel Wrangler. Through this contribution, we learned of great accomplishments throughout her career, notably, that she has been referred to as the first woman to pursue archaeology professionally, and she was the first female Native American archaeologist. Including the fun fact: in 1936, Bertha Pallan married Oscar Cody (a.k.a “Iron Eyes Cody”)—an American actor best remembered for the "Keep America Beautiful" television advertisements in the 1970s.
I commend all the fascinating discoveries this year. However, there are eight remaining images that await more information or have yet to be addressed. In fact, my personal favorite needs some love. She currently goes by the name, “Unidentified Woman.”
There is nothing sadder than an image entitled “Unidentified woman.” Particularly, an image of a woman that looks so darling! The description mentions that “in other images she is standing with electrical engineer and Deutsches Technical Museum founder Oskar Von Miller (1855-1934).” Does this spark some insight into this woman’s past? Let the names begin.
(Anyone else have the chorus of Madonna’s “Who’s That Girl” playing in their head? . . . No? Just me?)