Ernst Mayr Library

MCZ Archives Collection Chosen for Harvard University Library's Colonial North American Project

The Ernst Mayr Library's Collection of Historical Manuscripts has been chosen to be included in the Colonial North American Project, a multi-year Harvard University Library project "funded by Arcadia to survey, process/catalog, conserve, digitize," and make accessible "all known archival and manuscript materials in the Harvard Library that relate...

Read more about MCZ Archives Collection Chosen for Harvard University Library's Colonial North American Project

Notes from William Brewster: Trials in Wildlife Photography

This post is part of a series on the collection of ornithologist William Brewster (1851-1919) at the Ernst Mayr Library, written by Elizabeth Meyer, Library Project Assistant.

In the mid-1890s, Brewster’s journals increasingly reference using new methods of data collection. Though he continued to collect specimens on a smaller scale, with focus shifted from birds to their nests and eggs, his journals show that he began to use his gun more for securing dinner than for data collection. He started to bring field glasses (binoculars) and a boxy Kodak camera on his excursions.

Setting up photographs in the field was challenging. Sometimes a bit of prep work helped, such as thinning the foliage in backcountry areas: “I spent the day ashore taking a walk through the wood road in the forenoon with camera & hatchet selecting & cutting out spots for photographing later.” (Sunshine, Deer Island, Maine. June 26, 1896.)

Opportunistic shots of live animals were even trickier, but once in a while he managed to get some good shots. 

Porcupine

Sepia-toned photo of a porcupine on a tree branch.

... Read more about Notes from William Brewster: Trials in Wildlife Photography

Notes from William Brewster: Summer Thrushes

This post is part of a series on the collection of ornithologist William Brewster (1851-1919) at the Ernst Mayr Library, written by Elizabeth Meyer, library project assistant.

William Brewster’s summertime journals are filled with birdsong: he noted which species were singing, when, and, to the best of his ability, what those songs sounded like. This left us some beautiful nature writing that also provides some insight on the scientist's emotional connection to his work and study sites. Here are two passages...

Read more about Notes from William Brewster: Summer Thrushes

Digging into the personal writings of a 19th century ornithologist

This post is part of a series on the collection of ornithologist William Brewster (1851-1919) at the Ernst Mayr Library, written by Elizabeth Meyer, Library Project Assistant. It is also published on the Biodiversity Heritage Library blog.

Tuesday, June 12, 1866 
A.M. pleasant P.M. cloudy. Studied part of P.M. Went to circus in evening & saw a...

Read more about Digging into the personal writings of a 19th century ornithologist

BHL Update - June 2016

As of the end of June, 2016, the Ernst Mayr Library has digitized and contributed over 9300 volumes (3,162,725 pages) to the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). Contained within these pages are 11,966,599 instances of indexed species names. Since the first volumes were uploaded to BHL in December, 2007, Ernst Mayr Library items have been accessed a total of 7,040,287 times. Monthly usage now consistently exceeds 100,000 downloads with June, 2016 showing a total of 171,499...

Read more about BHL Update - June 2016

Notes from William Brewster: Ornithologists in the Courtroom

In March 1886, one deacade before the Massachusetts Audubon Society for the Protection of Birds had organized, William Brewster wrote three letters to fellow ornithologist George Sennett, describing an early attempt to pass bird protection legislation in Massachusetts.

Brewster, who would become the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s first president and a co-founder of the American...

Read more about Notes from William Brewster: Ornithologists in the Courtroom

Notes from William Brewster: American Robin

“It is sunset and as I sit in my study in the Museum a Robin is singing in an elm in the garden. What a hopeful, earnest strain! It always cheers and encourages me. Our Robin must have a brave heart and a pure conscience.”

– William Brewster, in correspondence to his friend, ornithologist Frank Michler Chapman. March 26, 1893. Cambridge, Mass.

William Brewster (1851-1919) grew up in a Cambridge of...

Read more about Notes from William Brewster: American Robin

Celebrating Louis Agassiz, founder of the MCZ

Naturalist, educator, and founder of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz was born on May 28, 1807, in Môtier, Switzerland, the oldest son of prominent pastor Rodolphe Agassiz and Rose Mayor Agassiz. Growing up near Lake Morat, Louis was fascinated by fish, catching them barehanded along with his brother Auguste. Louis was determined to study science, although his family encouraged him to pursue medicine. He studied at the Universities of Munich, Heidelberg, and Erlangen, earning a Ph.D. in 1829 and an M.D. in 1830. His 1829 publication...

Read more about Celebrating Louis Agassiz, founder of the MCZ

Alexander Agassiz's Expedition and Other Images Collection: An Archivist’s Process

By Gwendolyn Henry, EdM, MSLIS

Archivist and Library Assistant

Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology

Harvard University

Processing the Alexander Agassiz's Expedition and Other Images Collection (1897-1950 (bulk)), which contains 734 gelatin dry plate glass negatives, 268 film negatives and 13 photographic prints requires several key skills: strong attention to detail, the ability to do research, knowledge of descriptive metadata, and most of all a steady hand.

I started this project in April 2012 with little experience in processing glass...

Read more about Alexander Agassiz's Expedition and Other Images Collection: An Archivist’s Process

Pages