Flattened Between the Pages

Moulted Snake Skin, 2013, by Janelle Batkin-Hall, Record Unit 7067 - James G. Cooper Papers, 1853-1870 and undated, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming, 2013, by Janelle Batkin-Hall, Accession 11-106 - David Griffiths Field Books, 1897-1907, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Botanical Specimen, 2012, by Janelle Batkin-Hall, Accession 12-130 - Jesse Herman Holmes Field Notes, 1890, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Ink Drawing, 2013, by Janelle Batkin-Hall, Record Unit 7267 - Vernon Bailey Papers, 1905, 1921-1929, 1939, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Nohku'tgnhtu'nnuk [sic], Koyukon, 2013, by Janelle Batkin-Hall, Record Unit 7073 - William H. Dall Papers, circa 1839-1858, 1862-1927, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Strophanthus Flower, 2013, by Janelle Batkin-Hall, Accession 12-015 - Orator Fuller Cook Field Books, 1894-1924, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Enclosure for herbarium style specimen mount for snake skin (and/or other type of insertion) found in a book, 2013, by Janelle Batkin-Hall; Record Unit 7067 - James G. Cooper Papers, 1853-1870 and undated, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Enclosure for herbarium style specimen mount for snake skin with the journal it was found in placed together in its custom box, 2013, by Janelle Batkin-Hall; Record Unit 7067 - James G. Cooper Papers, 1853-1870 and undated, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Last June, I joined the Smithsonian Center for Archives Conservation at the Smithsonian Institution Archives as a pre-Master's program art conservation summer intern.  My focus was on the preservation and rehousing of scientist’s exploration journals  that are part of the Field Book Project.  In September, I was fortunate to remain at the Archives as the conservation technician for the Field Book Project.  Over the past year I've flipped through hundreds of field books containing fascinating information that detail collected field data, as well as the author's experiences with indigenous cultures from around the world.  Surprisingly, I've even come across an endearing poem or two nestled amongst daily diary entries or numbered lists of technical field data.  It's been a pleasure to discover that the scientists who authored these books were quite creative in how they depicted their observations and gathered scientific information while in the field.  At the time in which many of these explorations took place (often pre-photography), the noted interactions and observations of the author best depicted life in exotic and foreign locations.

My involvement and contribution to this project wraps up in a couple of months, but I wanted to share some of the more fascinating items I've found pressed between the pages of the field books I've come across; items that are great descriptors of  life while away on an exploration.

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