A magpie with a card-index mind - Charles Davies Sherborn 1861-1942.
ABSTRACT: Charles Davies Sherborn was geologist, indexer and bibliographer extraordinaire. He was fascinated by science from an early age and like so many Victorians, the young Sherborn was a passionate natural history collector and was obsessed with expanding his collection of land and freshwater shells. He later described himself as being a 'thorough magpie' and having 'a card-index mind', and these two traits coalesced in his monumental Index Animalium, the compilation of which occupied 43 years of his life. One of the first visitors through the doors of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington when it opened in 1881, Sherborn began work there seven years later as one of the small band of unofficial scientific workers, paid by the number of fossils he prepared. By the time of his death in 1942, Sherborn's corner in the Museum was the first port of call for generations of scientists seeking advice, information - or an invitation to one of his famous 'smoke and chat' parties. In addition to his work on the Index, Sherborn is also responsible for rescuing from damp and probable destruction the huge archive of Sir Richard Owen, the great comparative anatomist and the prime mover behind the creation of the Natural History Museum, London. Without Sherborn, this invaluable resource of correspondence, manuscripts and books may well have been irretrievably ruined.
Project description:In 1996 Smithsonian Libraries (SIL) embarked on the digitization of its collections. By 1999, a full-scale digitization center was in place and rare volumes from the natural history collections, often of high illustrative value, were the focus for the first years of the program. The resulting beautiful books made available for online display were successful to a certain extent, but it soon became clear that the data locked within the texts needed to be converted to more usable and re-purposable form via digitization methods that went beyond simple page imaging and included text conversion elements. Library staff met with researchers from the taxonomic community to understand their path to the literature and identified tools (indexes and bibliographies) used to connect to the library holdings. The traditional library metadata describing the titles, which made them easily retrievable from the shelves of libraries, was not meeting the needs of the researcher looking for more detailed and granular data within the texts. The result was to identify proper print tools that could potential assist researchers in digital form. This paper outlines the project undertaken to convert Charles Davies Sherborn's Index Animalium into a tool to connect researchers to the library holdings: from a print index to a database to eventually a dataset. Sherborn's microcitation of a species name and his bibliographies help bridge the gap between taxonomist and literature holdings of libraries. In 2004, SIL received funding from the Smithsonian's Atherton Seidell Endowment to create an online version of Sherborn's Index Animalium. The initial project was to digitize the page images and re-key the data into a simple data structure. As the project evolved, a more complex database was developed which enabled quality field searching to retrieve species names and to search the bibliography. Problems with inconsistent abbreviations and styling of his bibliographies made the parsing of the data difficult. Coinciding with the development of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) in 2005, it became obvious there was a need to integrate the database converted Index Animalium, BHL's scanned taxonomic literature, and taxonomic intelligence (the algorithmic identification of binomial, Latinate name-strings). The challenges of working with legacy taxonomic citation, computer matching algorithms, and making connections have brought us to today's goal of making Sherborn available and linked to other datasets. Partnering with others to allow machine-to-machine communications the data is being examined for possible transformation into RDF markup and meeting the standards of Linked Open Data. SIL staff have partnered with Thomson Reuters and the Global Names Initiative to further enhance the Index Animalium data set. Thomson Reuters' staff is now working on integrating the species microcitation and species name in the ION: Index to Organism Names project; Richard Pyle (The Bishop Museum) is also working on further parsing of the text. The Index Animalium collaborative project's ultimate goal is to successful have researchers go seamlessly from the species name in either ION or the scanned pages of Index Animalium to the digitized original description in BHL - connecting taxonomic researchers to original authored species descriptions with just a click.
Project description:Sherborn's work on the Foraminifera clearly provided the initial spark to compile the major indexes for which he is famous. Contact and help from famous early micropalaeontologists such as T. Rupert Jones and Fortescue William Millett led Sherborn to produce his Bibliography of Foraminifera and subsequently a two-part Index of Foraminiferal Genera and Species. Edward Heron-Allen, whose mentor was Millett, was subsequently inspired by the bibliography to attempt to acquire every publication listed. This remarkable collection of literature was donated to the British Museum (Natural History) in 1926 along with the foraminiferal collections Heron-Allen had mainly purchased from early micropalaeontologists. This donation forms the backbone of the current NHM micropalaeontological collections. The NHM collections contain a relatively small amount of foraminiferal material published by Sherborn from the London Clay, Kimmeridge Clay and Speeton Clay. Another smaller collection reflects his longer-term interest in the British Chalk following regular fieldwork with A. W. Rowe. Other collections relating to Sherborn's early published work, particularly with T. R. Jones, are not present in the collections but these collections may have been sold or deposited elsewhere by his co-workers.
Project description:This study is aimed to shed light on the reliability of Sherborn's Index Animalium in terms of modern usage. The AnimalBase project spent several years' worth of teamwork dedicated to extracting new names from original sources in the period ranging from 1757 to the mid-1790s. This allowed us to closely analyse Sherborn's work and verify the completeness and correctness of his record. We found the reliability of Sherborn's resource generally very high, but in some special situations the reliability was reduced due to systematic errors or incompleteness in source material. Index Animalium is commonly used by taxonomists today who rely strongly on Sherborn's record; our study is directed most pointedly at those users. We recommend paying special attention to the situations where we found that Sherborn's data should be read with caution. In addition to some categories of systematic errors and mistakes that were Sherborn's own responsibility, readers should also take into account that nomenclatural rules have been changed or refined in the past 100 years, and that Sherborn's resource could eventually present outdated information. One of our main conclusions is that error rates in nomenclatoral compilations tend to be lower if one single and highly experienced person such as Sherborn carries out the work, than if a team is trying to do the task. Based on our experience with extracting names from original sources we came to the conclusion that error rates in such a manual work on names in a list are difficult to reduce below 2-4%. We suggest this is a natural limit and a point of diminishing returns for projects of this nature.
Project description:The first few words of the title of this symposium are "Anchoring Biodiversity Information". In order to properly anchor anything for a long-lasting future, a solid foundation needs to have been laid. For the zoological portion of biodiversity information, that firm foundation is best exemplified in the works of Charles Davies Sherborn. This man, like others of his ilk, was intimately focused on indexing names. This incredible focus was a life-long passion for him and culminated in his 9500-page Index Animalium of over 400,000 names of animals. This Index represents not only one of the most prodigious efforts in publication by a single man and the single most important reference to names in zoology, but a permanent legacy to the efforts of an indexer that proved to be an inspiration to many.
Project description:C. D. Sherborn published in 1940, under the imprint of Cambridge University Press but at his own expense, Where is the - Collection? This idiosyncratic listing of named natural science collections, and their fates, was useful, but incomplete, and uneven in its accuracy. It is argued that those defects were inevitable, given Sherborn's age and wartime conditions, and that what might seem one of Sherborn's less impressive works was in fact a pioneering work highly influential in stimulating the production of successor works now much used in curation, and in systematic and descriptive biology and palaeontology. The book also contributed to the development of collections research in the natural sciences, and the history of collections and of museums.
Project description:By the late 19(th) Century, storms plaguing early Victorian systematics and nomenclature seemed to have abated. Vociferous disputes over radical renaming, the world-shaking clash of all-encompassing procrustean systems, struggles over centres of authority, and the issues of language and meaning had now been settled by the institution of a stable imperial museum and its catalogues, a set of rules for the naming of zoological objects, and a new professional class of zoologists. Yet, for all that tranquillity, the disputes simmered below the surface, re-emerging as bitter struggles over synonyms, trinomials, the subspecies category, the looming issues of the philosophy of scientific language, and the aggressive new American style of field biology - all pressed in upon the received practice of naming and classifying organisms and the threat of anarchy. In the midst rose an index. This paper will explore the context of CD Sherborn's Index Animalium and those looming problems and issues which a laborious and comprehensive "index of nature" was meant to solve.
Project description:Overdose prevention sites (OPS) are places where people use previously obtained drugs under the supervision of a health professional. They have been proposed in six United States (US) cities, including Philadelphia, to help reduce opioid-related overdose deaths and public injection. Philadelphia has the highest overdose rate among large cities in the US, which has led a local community-based organization to plan the implementation of OPS. Kensington, a neighborhood with the highest drug mortality overdose rates in the city, is a likely site for the proposed OPS. Given the dearth of research systematically assessing public opinion towards OPS prior to implementation, we enrolled 360 residents and 79 business owners/staff in the Kensington neighborhood in a cross-sectional acceptability study. Face-to-face surveys assessed participant characteristics, experiences with drug-related social problems, and OPS acceptability. Using descriptive statistics, we estimated factors associated with favorability towards opening an OPS in the Kensington neighborhood. Ninety percent of residents were in favor of an OPS opening in Kensington. Support was significantly higher among unstably housed individuals and persons who currently use opioids. In the business sample, 63% of owners/staff were in favor of opening an OPS in Kensington. A greater proportion of Asian/Pacific Islanders, Hispanic/Latinx respondents, and non-Hispanic/Latinx Black respondents were in favor of an OPS opening in Kensington compared with white respondents (p?<?0.04). While details about implementation are still being considered, results indicate general acceptability among Kensington residents and businesses for an OPS, especially if it can deliver benefits that curb drug-related social problems. Should an OPS be implemented in Philadelphia, it would be important to monitor changes in drug-related social problems and acceptability post implementation.
Project description:The anatomical collection of the Anatomical Museum of Leiden University Medical Center (historically referred to as Museum Anatomicum Academiae Lugduno-Batavae) houses and maintains more than 13,000 unique anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens, and include the oldest teratological specimens of The Netherlands. Throughout four centuries hundreds of teratological specimens were acquired by more than a dozen collectors. Due to the rich history of this vast collection, teratological specimens can be investigated in a unique retrospective sight going back almost four centuries. The entire 19th century collection was described in full detail by Eduard Sandifort (1742-1814) and his son Gerard Sandifort (1779-1848). Efforts were made to re-describe, re-diagnose and re-categorize all present human teratological specimens, and to match them with historical descriptions. In the extant collection a total of 642 human teratological specimens were identified, including exceptional conditions such as faciocranioschisis and conjoined twins discordant for cyclopia, and sirenomelia. Both father and son Sandifort differed in their opinion regarding the causative explanation of congenital anomalies. Whereas, their contemporaries Wouter Van Doeveren (1730-1783) and Andreas Bonn (1738-1817) both presented an interesting view on how congenital anomalies were perceived and explained during the 18th and 19th centuries; the golden age of descriptive teratology. Although this enormous collection is almost 400 years old, it still impresses scientists, (bio)medical students, and laymen visiting and exploring the collections of the Museum Anatomicum in Leiden, The Netherlands.
Project description:Yamatochaitophorus yichunensis sp. n. is described from specimens collected in northeast China on Acer tegmentosum (Aceraceae). Yamatochaitophorus is also a new generic record for China. Type specimens are deposited in the National Zoological Museum of China, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China (NZMC) and the Natural History Museum, London, UK (BMNH).