Thanks to the dedicated (and speedy!) help of the Smithsonian Transcription Center transcribers, more than 40 photo albums put together by former Smithsonian Secretary Alexander Wetmore are now transcribed! The albums cover Wetmore’s extensive travel around the world: from across the United States, during his time with the US Department of Agriculture’s Biological Survey bureau, fresh out of college; to his yearly research trips to Panama during his long career with the Smithsonian.
Wetmore’s ornithology research spanned nearly his entire life, from his first published article at 13, to his book, The Birds of the Republic of Panama. These albums offer a unique insight into the career of a dedicated scientist—not just Wetmore’s tireless field work, but the friendships, adventures, and fun he had along the way.
Transcribing this material has helped unlock a number of new avenues of research. It has provided a key to determining where Wetmore—and a number of Smithsonian researchers and museum leaders who traveled alongside him—researched over a more than 50-year span. It has given us a chance to surface new questions and new information, including names of women scientists and artists who were involved in Wetmore’s field expeditions. It’s provided a lens into how the Smithsonian, and other leading scientific research institutions, conducted field work. These albums have also given us a look at Wetmore as a person—what he found funny or fascinating or unique about the world around him.
Thanks for helping us on this incredible journey, transcribers! In celebration, some of the Smithsonian Transcription Center’s biggest Alexander Wetmore fans have submitted some favorite images from their tireless work on the Wetmore albums—a greatest-hits set of photos from over 50 years of field work (plus a few new Alexander Wetmore field notes, live on the Smithsonian Transcription Center)! Enjoy!
Alexander Wetmore: Observing the Making of a Scientist, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
How Many Birds Have You Seen Today?, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
Thank you, Volunteers!, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives