GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 26-17
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


MAYER, Paul S., Gantz Family Collections Center, Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605-2496

The fossil invertebrate collection of the Field Museum has over two million fossil specimens divided into ~350,000 specimen lots. This collection was built over the last 125 years, and the majority of specimens have their data recorded in handwritten labels and catalog entries. Digitization of the collection started in the 1980’s with an NSF grant resulting in the creation of a Filemaker Pro database and the digitization of ~35,000 Mazon Creek specimens. From the 1990’s to 2011, there were many individual efforts to add to the database. In 2011, ~45,000 specimen lot records (~12% of the collection) were in our database.

Since 2011, the records were transferred to an EMu database which spurred the developemnet of smaller digitization projects designed to be completed by undergrad and high school interns working during the summer. A variety of funding sources were used to support intern salaries including two 3-year IMLS Museum for America grants and in-house funding opportunities at the Field Museum including Women in Science (WIS) interns and the Museum Collection Spending Fund (MCSF). For these projects interns are trained in handling museum specimens, using Axiell EMu Database, and photographing labels and fossil specimens. A total of 27 high school and undergrad student interns have participated in eight digitization projects over the last eight summers resulting in nearly 40,000 paper-based specimen records being converted to electronic records added to our fossil invertebrate database and generating nearly 70,000 specimen and label images.

Year Project Staff Records Digitized

Images Created

2012 Cephalopod type collection Volunteer student 633 2,135
2012 World Columbia Exposition catalog Staff and volunteer student 4,415 133
2013 Grainger Digitization Initiative Paid intern 241 1,379
2013-2015 IMLS Silurian Reef Project 9 paid IMLS interns

1 WIS intern

19,116 26,175
2016 Tully Monster project 1 paid intern 873 4,439
2016 - 2017 Thomas V. Testa Collection

1 paid MCSF intern

2 paid WIS interns

5,493 36
2018 James and Sylvia Konecny Collection 2 paid WIS interns 1,392 0
2018 - 2020 IMLS Ordovician Project 8 paid IMLS interns As of June 23, 2019: 4,975 As of June 23, 2019: 34,431
Total 8 projects 27 students 37,138 68,728