The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Flickr Commons
Over 50 years ago, a team of over 40 Smithsonian researchers were deployed to survey plants and animals living on the islands and atolls of the Pacific Ocean as part of the Pacific Ocean Biological Survey Program. The major goals of the program were to learn what plants and animals occurred on the islands, the seasonal variations in their numbers and reproductive activities, and the distribution and population of the pelagic birds (birds living over the open ocean) of that area.
During the six and a half years of field work, 1,800,000 birds were banded and approximately 150,000 observations of pelagic birds at sea were made. We hope you enjoy these completely adorable pelagic chicks, all in the name of science!
Today marks the 5th anniversary of our Women’s History Month celebration. We have a set of 71 images of women in science which we’ll be rolling out throughout the month. We will also be highlighting a little known, but ground-breaking woman each day through March on a Pinterest board and Facebook, whichever you prefer! We have women in the fields of botany, biology, physiology, biochemistry, anthropology, and much more. Some notables in today's group are Marion Schmidt Escallon, the first woman employed as a petroleum exploration geologist, and Laurel van der Wal, the 1961 Woman Scientist of the Year who specialized in engineering problems of manned space flight, including effects of weightlessness, radiation protection, and development of data handling and processing systems.
We also have a few mysteries which we’d love your help in solving. If you’d like to learn more about these important figures, keep checking back as we will be blogging about them throughout the month.
In celebration of 5 years of the Flickr Commons, peruse a set of the most popular photographs on Flickr to date.
Today marks five years of the Flickr Commons, an online space for cultural heritage institutions to post historic photographs, and other images, with the "no known copyright restrictions" terms. Library of Congress was the first to make their mark on the Commons. We follwed 6 months later in June 2008. It's been immensely satisfying to get to know visitors, see what they dig up about our collections, and after 5 years, observe the dedication people show in helping us do some of the work we frankly don't have time and/or resources to get to. Specifically, two recent comments helped us identify faces in our collections.
The first identification happened in September 2012, nearly a year after we uploaded a picture of Agnes Mary Claypole Moody. A timely comment from Flickr user, Elliot20122012, gave us evidence supporting previous comments made pointing to Moody. It turns out Elliot20122012 had been in touch with a descendant of Clarypole Moody’s, Kate Moody, who sent Elliot20122012 a photo of the Claypole sisters in 1898. Elliot20122012 shared the photo with us and alas, a match was made.
Agnes Mary Claypole Moody (1870-1954), was a zoologist and professor of natural science, and Edith Jane Claypole (1870-1915) was also a biologist. According to Caltech’s website, when the California Institute of Technology was known as the Throop University vocational school in 1898, Edward Waller Claypole was their geology and biology instructor. He had twin daughters, Agnes and Edith, who earned their Masters of Science; Edith in 1893 with a thesis on the blood cells of amphibians and Agnes in 1894 with a thesis on the digestive tract of eels. In 1898, Agnes Mary Claypole wrote a book called, “The embryology and oögenesis of Anurida maritime" (Anurida maritima is a wingless animal found in water).
When Edward Waller Claypole died in 1901, both daughters were hired on at Throop University to teach in his place. In 1903-4, Agnes M. Claypole was Professor of Natural Science and Curator, the first female biology professor at Throop. After a year on the job, she married Robert O. Moody, and moved to northern California where she later joined the faculty at Mills College.
The second identification happened just the end of last week. We had posted a set of images from the Scopes "Monkey Trial" in January, 2010. We knew the identity of the man on the right to be William Silverman, the father of the donor of the collection, Henrietta Jenrette. However, we didn't know the name of his teacher who had accompanied him to the trial.
Jenrette contacted us after finding his photograph in the 1925 and 1922 Chattanooga Hight School yearbooks with a match. There's no mistaking the face of Creed F. Bates, Jr., aka "the living Dynamo of Chattanooga High School," as the senior class of 1925 affectionately called him.
Jenrette commented, "Isn't the Internet wonderful?" Actually, we think the people who give their time to helping us learn about our collections are wonderful. It is satisfying to see an unidentified person become a complete composition with a history and a name. This is the power of the crowd, and we thank you!
There is a dedicated team of people at the Smithsonian's Archives and the National Museum of Natural history who are digitizing and describing field books which document the collecting of biological specimens. As they are creating descriptions and images in order to make these fieldbooks more widely available, they are also shedding light on the personal stories of the people behind the research. These are some stories you can read about in our most recent set of Flickr Commons images.
Through the field notes of mammalogist Vernon Orlando Bailey, we learn about a biologist who balanced his desire to study the natural world with a dedication to the humane treatment of his animal subjects which is sweetly illustrated in his poem about an encounter with a Bobbity mouse.
We peek into the fascinating life of Lucile Mann, wife of former Smithsonian National Zoo Director William Mann, who sometimes accompanied her husband on collecting expeditions. Lucile Mann had a background in military intelligence and writing and her skills (and sense of humor) are apparent in this scrapbook of a collecting expedition to Argentina.
If you’re simply in search of something pleasing to the eye, then check out the beautiful drawings of fish specimen from the United States Exploring Expedition (1838-1842), and these jade samples from a survey of jade conducted in Central America, circa 1949.
What do cocktails, lion cubs, and costinika have in common? These are all things that can be found in the latest batch of images contributed to Flickr Commons from Field Books held in our collections. There’s also an itinerary from an F.D.R. presidential cruise in 1938, and an overly adorable primate cuddling a tiger cub.
There are always wonderful surprises to be had in these diaries that document scientific expeditions, and the project team writes about the gems on their blog. And in case you didn’t know (I didn’t), costinika is a plant that apparently makes a fine jelly.