Thursday, November 13, 2014

Outdated Methods

I often find myself wondering if I should write something down, but then I think, "surely I'll remember this later." It seems to be the case that many botanists at Emory in the early 20th century had this same approach to labeling the plants they collected.

Missing dates and habitats on labels are among the many obstacles met when databasing old plants on such a large scale. Many plant names are written in pencil in cursive, which must have seemed like a good idea at the time. In the same way, specimen filing cabinets were lined with a mixture of mercury and cyanide to keep away bugs.. If the work of such scientists seems so haphazard today, what aspects of the current herbarium will seem crazy in the future?

1 comment:

  1. When our colleague, Clark Regnier, died in a car crash here in Nigeria, we were given the job of sorting through the language data he had collected over a number of years. Unfortunately, much of the material was not labeled - we couldn't tell what language it was, much less who supplied the information and when. We had to toss a lot of data.