Frequently Asked Questions
The Smithsonian’s Collection Search Center (collections.si.edu) includes materials from across the institution dealing with art, culture, and the sciences. These tips are designed to help you narrow your search to just content related to field notes.
To the right is a snapshot of the categories for narrowing a search in Smithsonian Collection Search Center, and includes quick explanations of what to expect within each of the search categories.
There are two ways. Either use keyword search “unit_code:FBR” or select Cataloging Record Source “Smithsonian Field Book Project.”
Limit the search category Type to “field notes.”
If you select Topic, you’ll see that most disciplines are cataloged by their subject term (e.g. study of mammals is cataloged with “mammalogy”). In the cases of botany and ornithology you will have more accurate search results if you select the Topic “plants” or “birds.”
We catalog the physical location of both the collections and individual field books. You can see this information when the catalog record is expanded. To locate field books and collections in various departments use the following keyword searches in quotations.
- “Smithsonian Institution Archives”
- “National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Division of Birds”
- “National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Dept. of Entomology”
- “National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Division of Fishes”
- “National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Division of Mammals”
- “Smithsonian Institution. Libraries”
- “National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Main Library” (Botany field books)
Expand the field book record that you’re interested in and about halfway down the record, you’ll see Access Information listed. This will provide a phone number and email address where you can reach the department that holds that collection.
The Field Book Project creates 5 types of records: (1) Collection records, (2) Item [or field book] records, (3) Personal Biographies, (4) Organization Histories; and (5) Expedition Histories. To limit the search to just field books, select search category Type “field notes.”
Other types of records can be selected by using the following keyword searches in quotations.
- “Personal name” (Individual collectors)
- “Organization name”
- “Expedition name”
- For collections, enter record_ID: fbr_coll*
This is a small but consistently growing segment of the field books led by the Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA’s) Division of Digital Services and their awesome digitization staff. To find all currently available digitized field books, select Online Media and limit to “Electronic Resource” or "Images."
This can give you a lot of information about the format of the field book. Field books come in a wide variety of formats including videos, photographs, journals, diaries, and slides just to name a few.
Field book records can include geographical information that ranges from the political boundaries like country level to town level or geological boundaries like mountain range, river, or island. These levels of specificity can be seen in the category Location.
The field book catalog records include a significant amount of date information. Individual collectors have birth and death years, expedition records list beginning and end years. Field book records often list the beginning and ending dates covered within a given item. Limiting your search by date can be a great way to filter results.
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