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Ray and Lavallee with Weddell seals at the Palmer Peninsula, Antarctica


In 2010, the Field Book Project began as a joint initiative between the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and the Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA) to create one online location for scholars and others to visit when searching for field books and other field research materials. Initially funded by the Council for Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and led by co- investigators Rusty Russell and Anne Van Camp, the Project began to catalog field books in participating departments across the Smithsonian. Since then, the Project has cataloged more than 7,500 field books across 8 departments and divisions of the Smithsonian.  Field book catalog records were made available to the public for the first time in December 2012 on Smithsonian’s Collection Search Center.  

Over the course of the initial grant period, NMNH and SIA worked together to acquire additional funding to support the conservation and digital imaging of the field books to further enhance access.  Grants from Save America’s Treasures and the Smithsonian Women’s Committee supported conservation and digitization staff and interns.  As a result, the cataloged field books have been assessed by conservation staff, which has enabled ongoing conservation and digitization.  More than 600 field books have been digitized and are now available online, with more being added regularly. 

Although these grants have concluded, the Field Book Project continues to make significant strides towards improving online access to scientists’ field notes. 
As of the summer of 2014, the Project joined with the Smithsonian Libraries and Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) to expand its cataloging and digitization efforts in continued partnership with Smithsonian Institution Archives.  As of summer 2015, the Project received additional funds from Arcadia. This work will result in continued cataloging, increased digitization, and a vast increase in the number of digital field books searchable alongside scientific publications from the same collectors in BHL. 

In addition to our work with BHL, the Project has begun contributing catalog records and digitized content to online repositories like Digital Public Library of America.  The Field Book Project also maintains an active social media presence on Twitter @FieldBookProj and its project blog.  The Project is also pleased to be a contributor to Smithsonian Transcription Center.  Participation has fostered excitement about these materials and created new opportunities for using field books as transcribed content is fully text searchable.  More than 100 field books have been transcribed and reviewed by volunteers.  As more field books are transcribed, information within them can be utilized in new ways: reconstructing historical ecologies, clarifying specimen provenance, and re-discovering localities.  Learn more about what the Field Book Project’s activities or follow us on Twitter.


Logo courtesy of ArcadiaLogo courtesy of Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)Logo courtesy of Save America's TreasuresLogo courtesy of Smithsonian Women's Committee

Website Credits

Templates for this website were created by the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) IT Department. Members of the Field Book Project, NMNH, and Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA) contribute content to this website.

Lesley Parilla: Field Book Project logo

Lesley Parilla: Webmaster


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