Why? According to William Beebe, why was “the question which makes all science worthwhile.” Why, for instance, do tinamous of the genus Tinamus have rough skin on their lower legs while tinamous of the genus Crypturus have smooth skin? Why do hoatzin populations seem to gather in nodes rather than being found throughout tropical forests?
The Bronx Zoo itself is a nostalgic place for many people (myself included), where lifelong memories are made from childhood onward, and close-up animal experiences make nature come alive. It may sound like a cliché, but then again who among us can recall their favorite part of the zoo and not be overwhelmed by affection for the animals found there? My own longtime favorite part of the zoo as a kid was the (now closed) World of Darkness. So, as you can see here, the zoo and I go back quite a ways. Continue reading →
Since September I have worked with the WCS Library and Archives in their ongoing effort to digitize historical photographic holdings. My focus has been on a collection documenting one of the expeditions made by the Society’s Department of Tropical Research. William Beebe led this 1925 expedition from New York to the Galapagos on a ship named Arcturus. Continue reading →
Processing the records of the New York Zoological Society’s (now the Wildlife Conservation Society) Center for Field Biology and Conservation (CFBC) was like a crash course in the Society’s field research and wildlife conservation efforts of the 1970s. In this post, I’ll give you a glimpse of both the CFBC’s history, as seen through its records, and the processing process itself. (Archival terms are linked to the Society of American Archivists glossary.) Continue reading →
Over the past several months the WCS Archives has processed six collections, five of which are wholly or partially open for research. The finding aids for these collections have joined the descriptions of previously processed archival collections available through the WCS Library’s public website, www.wcs.org/library. (The direct link to the Archives’ finding aids is: http://ielc.libguides.com/wcs/archives_fas.) Included below are the abstracts for and links to the collections’ finding aids, plus an image or document from each. Continue reading →
Processing the collection of Gloria Hollister Anable has been an enlightening experience not only because of her extraordinary life but also because of her obscurity. Relatively unknown outside of conservation circles, Hollister took part in several expeditions for the New York Zoological Society (NYZS), including Dr. William Beebe’s expeditions to Bermuda. During one such expedition to Nonsuch Island, Hollister descended in the Bathysphere, an underwater submersible, to a depth of 1,208 feet – at that time a record for a deep-sea dive completed by a woman. Hollister led her own expedition to British Guiana in 1936, worked in the first Red Cross blood bank during World War II, and in the 1950s was chairwoman of the Mianus River Gorge Conservation Committee. Continue reading →
Spending months working with historical photos from a specific collection almost creates an illusion that one may have participated in the scenes depicted in these prints. This notion particularly holds strong when carefully scanning and assigning appropriate metadata to historical photos from scientific research expeditions in beautiful locales filled with wondrous wildlife. Having the privilege to spend my photo archives internship working with many prints from the famous Bathysphere dives conducted by William Beebe and Otis Barton provided me with an imaginary tropical escape while also teaching me invaluable metadata skills. Continue reading →
In the 1970s, the New York Zoological Society [NYZS] increased its efforts in international conservation, sponsoring external researchers and conservationists with projects that furthered the NYZS mission of protecting wildlife and wild places. NYZS-sponsored researchers conducted field work in countries far from home, often for several months at a time. Reporting back to the Society, they shared exciting scientific findings or provided updates on conservation efforts in regions including East Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia. But amid the progress reports and publications full of data from the field, the correspondence from field researchers gives a sense of the physical and logistical difficulties of conducting international research. Continue reading →