Before the invention of the now ubiquitous computer programs known as "databases," information used to be stored in index cards or, in a more organized way, in inventory notebooks: tables in which all kinds of data were recorded. They included bibliographic elements, archaeological artifacts, technological devices, items from biological collections or archive materials, among many other possibilities.
With the emergence of different data management software, the information collected and contained in the inventory notebooks was progressively poured into computers and hard drives. Not always reliably, by the way. Over time, the original notebooks proved to survive longer than their computer counterparts: floppy disks were damaged, devices were broken, online databases were accidentally deleted... and paper, with few exceptions, lasted. That is why the most cautious institutions, despite having modernized their knowledge management systems, kept the original inventory supports in a corner of their archives. Just in case.
CDF's biological collections —in constant dialogue with the institutional Archive— keep a series of notebooks of this type, particularly related to biological materials. Together with cards, they continue to be consulted today when it is necessary to corroborate specific data. In addition, those pages have proven to be a small compendium of institutional history, with its different handwritings, notes, and dates. All these elements, which in other circumstances could be considered anecdotal and insignificant, account for the many people who have made a contribution to Galapagos science and to the social memory of the islands.
The document chosen as an example of this collection is an inventory / catalog of the invertebrates in the biological collection of the Charles Darwin Research Station. The dates of the entries range from 1974 to 1999, and the data collected includes an identification number, the taxonomic classification of the specimen, the name of the species, the place of collection, the date of entry in the catalog, some notes, and the name of the collector.
Aa.Vv. Catalogue of Galapagos animals (invertebrates) in the collection of the Charles Darwin Research Station. [Manuscript]. Santa Cruz : Aa.Vv., 1974-1999. [N.d.] : [n.d.] : 32 cm. DDC 508. Regularly preserved.
Text & picture: Edgardo Civallero (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Publication date: 1 October 2022
Last update: 1 October 2022