physical records” with identical Serial Numbers.
Because SELGEM was a general purpose data management system it was used for a wide range of applications at the Smithsonian Institution. Computer applications (using SELGEM) in the 1970s included: museum objects from National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), National Museum of American History (NMAH), National Air and Space Museum (NASM), art museums, the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Volcanoes of the World, bibliographic applications, systematic checklists, type-specimen catalogs, Catalog of American Portraits, National Portrait Gallery (NPG), Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture, and a list of threatened and endangered plants in the United States. Many of these pioneer applications continue today, having evolved into modern databases and web-based applications.
|SELGEM master file, directory record|
Ayensu, Edward S. and Robert A. DeFilipps. 1978. Endangered and threatened plants of the United States. xv, 403 pages. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
The first line of a category always began with Line Number “01”. If the amount of data exceeded 64 characters, then continuation lines were created, and numbered sequentially “02”, “03”, etc. The theoretical maximum amount of data for one data element (or Category) was 99 lines x 64 characters or a maximum of 6,336 characters.
|Sample SELGEM record, page III |
Creighton, Reginald A., Penelope Packard, and Holley Linn. 1971. SELGEM Retrieval: a general description. Smithsonian Institution Procedures in Computer Sciences, 1(1):(6 pages) + 1-38.Dated July 1972.
- Easy to add new data elements to any SELGEM record by creating new catalog numbers (Either due to lack of planning or the development of data elements, such as DNA information.)
- Empty, missing, or blank data elements were not stored in the SELGEM record
- Flexibility to respond to changing and evolving user requirements
- The data structure was under the control and responsibility of the end user and less restricted by the application, and
- With limited technical support staff, a general purpose system supported more applications across the organization than if custom-design systems were developed for each application.