Paper No. 288-13
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM
ENHANCING THE VALUE OF PALEONTOLOGICAL COLLECTIONS THROUGH ORIGINAL SOURCE DOCUMENTATION: AN EXAMPLE FROM THE YALE PEABODY MUSEUM
The value of paleontological collections can be greatly improved with the use of original source documentation. Original source documentation, such as field notebooks, maps, photographs, correspondence and personal specimen or locality catalogs can enhance the quality and precision of collecting events and locality information. A variety of documentation has been used to document specimens and artifacts in museum collections but it is not uncommon to have partial or incomplete information on specimen labels or in published and unpublished locality registers which can lead to false assumptions about a taxon’s geological age, stratigraphic range or paleobiogeographic range. Information from original source documentation can not only augment descriptions but can also place specimens in precise geo-spatial and stratigraphic content. In many instances numerous specimens can be linked to an individual collecting event, which is often described in the original source documentation and serve as an authority for defining these events. The value and use of archives and original source documentation depends on, in part, preservation, copyright and intellectual control of these materials. Access to original source documents can be greatly improved by cataloging and digitization following established data standards from the archive community, such as Encoded Archival Description (EAD). Proper care and digitization can lead to multiple uses for improved collections management and research.