Wikipedia:Meetup/DC/Field Notes

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Expeditions & Explorers: Two Centuries of Field Notes

An Edit-a-Thon
Participate as a volunteer and you could earn the official SIA barnstar!

The Field Book Project, a joint effort of the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution Archives, welcomes participants to an edit-a-thon on the scientific field diaries held at the Smithsonian. Activities include new editor orientation and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Smithsonian’s Russell E. Train Africana Collection. Participants will also be invited to preview and test transcribe field book materials using the Smithsonian’s new digital Transcription Center. Coffee and lunch generously provided courtesy of Wikimedia DC.

Friday, June 21, 2013
10:00am - 5:00pm
Please arrive at 9:30 am for badging and security screening.
Up to 12 volunteers, plus staff from the Smithsonian Institution. No advanced technical skills required!
What to bring
Photo ID and a laptop computer
National Museum of Natural History
10th and Constitution Ave NW, Room CE 107 & 108, Washington, D.C., 20560
(View Map. Enter at the Constitution Ave side and check in with security).
Participate virtually by joining the conversation at the FBPwiki Etherpad and on Twitter at #FBPwiki.
RSVP Required
Email User:digitaleffie at (kapsalise (at) or sign up directly below with your name and email address so we can give the guard station the information they need for badging. This event is free of charge, but due to space and security badge requirements, participation is limited to 12 volunteers.


  • To encourage inexperienced editors and show them how they can contribute to Wikipedia
  • To improve a selection of Wikipedia articles related to scientists and expeditions
  • To make Smithsonian-held materials more openly linked
  • To test a new transcribing tool to make our field books more findable and useful
  • To increase awareness of the research resources freely available through libraries, archives, and museums


Expeditions & Explorers: Two Centuries of Field Notes, an Edit-a-Thon - Schedule
Time Activity Location
10:00 Meet National Museum of Natural History Lobby, 10th and Constitution Ave NW

Washington, D.C.
Photo ID required for entry

10:00-10:30 Welcome and coffee Rooms CE 107 & 108
10:30-10:45 Icebreaker Rooms CE 107 & 108
10:45-11:00 Break/Walk to Tour
11:00-11:45 Tour of Russell E. Train Africana Collection Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, National Museum of Natural History, East Court, Ground Floor
11:45-12:00 Break/Lunch generously provided by Wikimedia DC
12:00-1:00 Intro to Wikipedia over lunch Rooms CE 107 & 108
1:00-5:00 Edit-a-thon with break for group photo! Rooms CE 107 & 108

Questions? Add your own[edit]

  • What should I bring?
  • Laptop & photo ID. The Archives will provide a small number of laptops for those who don’t have one.
  • How do I RSVP?
  • Add your name to the list below, or email kapsalise(@) Space is limited to 12 non-staff participants, so if something changes and you can't make it, please remove your name from the list so that we can give the spot to someone from the waitlist.
  • Can I take photographs?
  • You're welcome to bring your own camera, and staff will go over photography policies at the beginning of the event.
  • Can I share what I’m doing?
  • Yes, please feel free to share what you’re working on – in keeping with policies we describe – on your preferred social network using #FBPwiki and invite your friends to join us remotely!



Due to space constraints, attendance is limited to 12 non-staff attendees and 12 staff attendees. Please also email kapsalise(@) with your full name and email address so we can prepare for badging ahead of time. RSVPs beyond the first 12 names in each category should consider themselves to be on the waitlist. Waitlisted individuals will be contacted in the event that a space opens up.

  1. --Coco Jaco (enthusiastic Wikimedia MeetUp user)
  2. mijotoba (talk)
  3. Okita2
  4. TaraInDC (talk)
  5. Geraldshields11 (talk) 12:53, 10 June 2013 (UTC) - I need to use a laptop with a mouse.[reply]
  6. --Friend of Smokey the Bear (enthusiastic Wikimedia MeetUp user) - Google says i'll be there at 11:11...i'm very sorry to be late, but i sooo want to do this...i promise to transcribe and not talk...feel free to re-direct me. ciao now!
  7. PandaMomentum
  8. Richard Huffine
  9. Duckduckgo (talk) 18:11, 19 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Richard O.
  11. PandaMomementum's +1
  12. All names beyond 12 should consider themselves on the waitlist; you will be contacted if a space opens up

Smithsonian staff[edit]

The Triumvirate of Smithsonian field notes editathon 2013
  1. --Digitaleffie (talk) 14:25, 15 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  2. --Meghaninmotion (talk) 15:30, 15 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  3. --Carolyn Sheffield (talk) 16:00, 15 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  4. --Uncommon fritillary (talk) 16:05, 16 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  5. --riccaferr (talk) 11:55, 20 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  6. --Sita
  7. --Sarasays (talk) 18:52, 12 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  8. --thekimbos (talk)
  9. --Robin Everly Robineverly (talk) 15:07, 21 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Dominic·t 06:17, 21 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  11. --All names beyond 12 should consider themselves on the waitlist; you will be contacted if a space opens up

Participating remotely[edit]

  1. Add your name here

To participate remotely, join our FBPwiki Etherpad.

Maybe or can't/won't/regrets[edit]

  • Really wish I could! But can't. Econterms (talk) 13:38, 20 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • Can't make it-- have to stay off my feet today. Djembayz (talk) 12:04, 21 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

List of articles we will be working on[edit]

Mary Agnes Chase (1869-1963), sitting at desk with specimens

The list is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather to provide a starting point for work by edit-a-thon participants.

The to-do list features ornithologist Edgar Alexander Mearns and bird watcher James Eike, botanists Mary Agnes Chase and Cleofé Caldéron and field naturalist John Alden Loring. It also includes herpetologist Doris Mable Cochran and zoologist Edmund Heller. Finally, two expeditions are in the mix: United States and Mexican Boundary Survey (1848-1855) and the Smithsonian-Roosevelt African Expedition (1909-1910) that included the exploits of Heller, Loring, and Mearns.

Please find a more detailed set of resources, including images and notable achievements, on this Expeditions & Explorers To-Do List.

Some of these to-dos are articles that need expanding, while others are ready to be created. There's something for everyone here: from crafting great introductions to uploading and inserting images to wikilinking! Find more details and resources through the to-do list above.


There are specific resources for each article available in the To-Do List. Below are more general resources that may be useful during the edit-a-thon.

Websites, library catalogs, & databases[edit]

Useful templates for explorers and expeditions[edit]

Help after the event[edit]

About the field books[edit]

Smithsonian Institution Archives - 535 Image 054

Field books tell the back story of biodiversity research – the weather and other environmental conditions, scientists’ personal experiences collecting and the impact of current events on their work, and a wealth of data on what was collected and observed. In essence, they tell the story of exploration and discovery. The Smithsonian houses thousands of these records documenting nearly two centuries of biodiversity research.

The first group of field books selected for this edit-a-thon is from three prominent women scientists: Mary Agnes Chase, Doris Mable Cochran, and Cleofé Calderon. Chase (1869-1963) was the foremost grass specialist of her time and an active participant in the women’s suffrage movement. Cochran (1898-1968) was a herpetologist, becoming Head of the Division of Reptiles and Amphibians in 1943. Calderon (1929-2007) was a botanist specializing in bamboo and collected in Panama, Brazil, and Ecuador between 1967 and 1982.

The second group of field books documents some of the formative collections of what was then known as the United States National Museum (and now houses the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History) including those of Edgar Alexander Mearns, a physician and naturalist who participated in historic expeditions These expeditions include the Smithsonian-Theodore Roosevelt African Expedition (1909-1910) and the Mexican Boundary Survey. Mearns studied both flora and fauna and took a special interest in ornithology. Also participants on the Smithsonian-Theodore Roosevelt African Expedition, J. Alden Loring and Edmund Heller’s field book focuses on mammals. More recent field notes include those from bird watcher James Eike who shared Mearns’ enthusiasm for ornithology and kept daily notes on his observations.

The majority of these are handwritten manuscripts – meaning this rich content is not machine readable. To unlock the data, and the stories of how that data was gathered, we also need your help in transcribing the notes and text. Participants will be invited to test the new Smithsonian Digital Volunteers Transcription Center; to help us make the rich materials and data in these field books discoverable and searchable by transcribing their contents.

Learn more about the collections from which these items were selected:

Results and outcomes[edit]

Article Creation[edit]

New articles
Updated articles
Images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons
  1. On Expedition: Theodore Roosevelt, Edgar Alexander Mearns, John Alden Loring - [1]
  2. On Expedition: Kermit Roosevelt - [2]
  3. On Expedition: Theodore Roosevelt - [3]
  4. East African Lion Exhibit - [4]
  5. Specimens form the Roosevelt Safari - [5]
  1. John Alden Loring - [6]
  1. Doris Mable Cochran - [7]
  2. Doris Mable Cochran with snake - [8]
  3. Doris Mable Cochran working with collections - [9]
  4. Doris Mable Cochran holding a frog - [10]
  1. Cleofe Calderon and Thomas R. Soderstrom examining bamboo samples - [11]
  1. Mary Agnes Chase collecting plants in Brazil - [12]
  2. Mary Agnes Chase, Clarissa Rolfs and group on Expedition - [13]

Specific Edit-a-thon Work[edit]