Thanks to the ongoing hard work of MVZ Archives team members such as Greg Borman, content-rich finding aids have rapidly begun to populate the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology page on the Online Archive of California (OAC). Finding aids that feature field notes, such as those compiled by Greg for the materials of Harry S. Swarth and Walter P. Taylor, in particular provide a detailed and highly useful guide to the content and data found within the pages of a given researcher’s notes. Arranged and described down to the section level of each field note volume, these finding aids provide not only a list of volume and section titles, but capture the higher geography represented within each section and often highlight significant details using the section’s “Scope and Contents note” element. Section scope and contents notes contain noteworthy details that range from the presence of visual materials such as maps, photographs, and sketches within the field notes, to the mention of other useful information such as an author’s holotype notation or his or her inclusion of photographic notes.
Perhaps more important, however, are the included linkages that integrate related online content directly into the finding aid. If we have digitized the field notes and they are available online, a link to the scans is included at the section level. In addition, because the field notes contain information that is integral to the Museum’s specimen collections, these finding aids also feature a “Related Materials note” at the section level that includes a link to any related specimen records in Arctos, the Museum’s specimen collection database. In this manner, the MVZ’s field note finding aids provide an easily accessible and eminently useful aggregation of information that directly links the Museum’s historic materials to its specimen collections.
As our project progresses, more finding aids like these will populate the OAC, increasing the visibility and access of our collections and enhancing the research potential of such rich historical resources. Keep an eye on the MVZ’s OAC page for additional field note finding aids in the near future!