Into the Woods: The Anthropologist, the Archives and the Historian

Ann Plane

Bird skin, Frank Speck Papers, Box 1, Folder 12, Phillips Library.

Bird skin, Frank Speck Papers, Box 1, Folder 12, Phillips Library.

Most archival work is pretty predictable—the usual mix of letters, sketches, and other paper-based materials. It’s not every day that you page up a box, open up a folder, unfold the notebook in the folder, and find a songbird skin. Throughout my summer as a Malamy Fellow, I found all manner of interesting things while combing through the materials that make up the manuscript collections of Frank G. Speck at the Phillips Library.  The bird skin looked a little the worse for the wear, but there it sat, feathers and all, nestled among field notes, correspondence, photographs, maps, and much more.[1] Read more

Nature Into Art: Uncovering Entomology

Plate 10: Everlasting flower and Castnia from Leningrader Aquarelle / Maria Sibylla Merian, 1974

A quick history lesson shows us how the collections of the Essex County Natural History Society (founded 1833) came to reside in the collections of the Peabody Essex Museum today. The ECNH focused on collecting both literature and specimens documenting the natural wonders of Essex County, Massachusetts.  After a short life of 15 years, the ECNH merged with the Essex Historical Society to form the Essex Institute. Read more