Smithsonian Collections Blog

Highlighting the hidden treasures from over 2 million collections

Collections Search Center

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

For Science: How Volunteers Can Help the US Herbarium Create Digital Records

One of Gorman's preserved plant specimens with his handwritten label

July is a wonderful time to visit Alaska. With daytime temperatures around 60°F - 80°F, up to 20 hours of daylight, and nature in full bloom, it's an explorer's paradise. And perhaps that's what Martin W. Gorman thought, over 110 years ago as he trekked through the Lake Illiamna Region of Alaska, collecting various plant specimens from around the area on one of several expeditions into the Pacific Northwest.

Those specimens from his 1902 expedition were preserved and eventually donated to the US Herbarium, which is housed in the Botany Department of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian. And today, we're excited to announce that they're a part of a project on the Transcription Center. Volunteers can aid in the creation of digital records for these specimens as they transcribe Gorman's handwritten notes on each specimen.

Growing into New Fields

Since we announced the launch of the Smithsonian Transcription Center several months ago, we've opened our doors to over 1100 digital volunteers who have tackled the 31 projects on the site with enthusiasm. From field notes of bird observations to scientific lab journals to letters written between 20th century American artists - our volunteers have made thousands of transcription contributions to our collections, helping make our materials more accessible to everyone.

At the same time, our team has been hard at work, continuing to refine the software that powers the Transcription Center. We've engaged our volunteers to refine the application's usability and worked with various museums and archives within the Smithsonian to integrate the application into staff workflows.

This release marks a major improvement to the site and we're so proud to share it with you. We're excited about the promise of transcription and encouraged by the early results we've seen so far. Please join us in helping create digital records from Gorman's 1902 Alaska Expedition and help us unpack our treasures.

Jason and the Transcription Center team

1 comment:

  1. Hi all - just fyi, the Gorman Specimens are complete! Thanks to everyone for their speedy transcription of these specimens. We now have our Passiflora specimens up and ready to be transcribed: Please join us in our effort to digitize the US Herbarium!