Research – Tagging Specimens

Archiving systems have been and are created to suit the needs of specific objects in collections, public and private. There are already systems in place for most items, but what are the constants/limitations of information collected? What are the over arching goals?

This article: , specific to Natural History collections meticulously details what pens and inks to use, as well as the other minutia which aid in a conservator’s efforts.

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Thomas D. Russell Geological specimen labels
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“Purchased by Mr. James Richardson, of [the] Am. Museum of N. Hist. [American Museum of Natural History], in the flesh, in the New York Market.” Passenger Pigeon specimen from the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
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Tags on Tropical parula specimen #36953, elegans holotype, Carnegie Museum
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Peter Marmet Meteorite Collection

learning about these labels, it seems that as much consideration has gone into the system of categorizing objects, as observing the objects themselves. I am interested in how the labels are often larger than the objects themselves. The scale and importance of the label, indicates to me that they are integral to the understanding of the specimen/object. The deign elements seem an important consideration for the practicality of the object (to obtain the written information quickly and conveniently, to help keep specimens/objects ordered), but they do not seem standardized. Even today there is ongoing debate about what information needs to be included.

The labels are carefully placed as to not harm the object they are attached, and considerations about the pH of paper and ink have been considered to prevent harm. This evidence of care leads me to want to now more about the specimens, and why they are special enough to warrant such considerations.

Are archives relating to Astronomy a part of Natural History collections? Should observations be tagged in the same way as physical specimens? Would this help us understand the night sky in a more tangible way? What would happen if we included subjective information to these labels? What would that information be? How would that effect our understanding of the world around us?

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