Invertebrate Zoology - Division of Marine Invertebrates Specimens Cards

Thank you for being a digital volunteer! It’s very important that this work is performed in a standardized manner, so please make the effort to read and follow these instructions.

Our Transcription and Review Process

Our Transcription and Review Process

We seek to balance quality and speed with our transcription process - which of course is still evolving as we continue to develop this service. At the moment, this is how our system works:

1) Anyone can start transcribing or add to a transcription of a document.

2) Once a volunteer decides they’ve “finished” and they’re ready for review, a different volunteer (who must have an account on the site) can review the transcription and either send it back for edits, or complete the transcription.

3) The finished transcript is sent to the Smithsonian, where it may be used immediately, or undergo additional work.

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The Invertebrate Zoology Specimens Cards Project

Join the National Museum of Natural History - Department of Invertebrate Zoology on a historical cruise through specimens cards with this pilot project. These cards represent specimens collected for the U.S. National Museum (the precursor to the Smithsonian Institution) and accessioned by the Division of Marine Invertebrates, now the Department of Invertebrate Zoology.

As explained by the Department of Invertebrate Zoology, “scientists conduct original research on all 30 major invertebrate animal groups (phyla) of the world (except insects), and are stewards for the 35 million specimens of invertebrates that comprise the U.S. National Collection. The study of invertebrates offers great challenges and opportunities to contribute to the world's knowledge of these organisms.”

The Department of Invertebrate Zoology (IZ) has a long history and is one of the oldest scientific units in the Smithsonian Institution. Established in 1856 to house invertebrates collected from the U.S. North Pacific Exploring Expedition, the collections responsibilities increased when collections from the U.S. Exploring Expedition (aka Wilkes Expedition) were added in 1858. Current holdings are approximately 35 million specimens in over 15 linear miles of storage. More than 40% of these specimens have computer records that can be queried at the IZ collections database.

Yet, these specimens cards have minimal data in their records. Your transcription efforts will help IZ researchers and partners more quickly access, compare, and learn from specimens data. We thank you for joining in the challenge.

For this transcription project, the transcription fields will be displayed in a default landscape view below the image of the card. All fields to be transcribed will be visible at the same time; there are no tabs. As always, you can find these instructions by clicking on the Instructions link in the upper right hand corner of the transcription window. Be sure to type in all the information you can for the fields in each section before you click the orange [Complete and Mark for Review] button.



Taxonomy is the arrangement of biological organisms into groups based on shared characteristics, then naming these groups; in other words, the classification of biological organisms. Taxonomic ranks include Domain - Kingdom - Phylum - Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. These ranks are arranged from most to least inclusive. As we transcribe, we will focus on the Genus and Species.

On these Invertebrate Zoology specimens cards, the upper line of the card will frequently display Genus and Species. Please transcribe as written.

Cat. No.

The "Cat.No." is the catalog number and will most likely be located in the upper right hand corner of the card.

You'll stay in the top right corner of the card for the next two fields.

Prep Type

The "Prep Type" field will be filled with details about specimens preparation. You will see the words "Alc." or "Dry." Please transcribe whichever was selected or present on the card.


In the Specimens field, you will transcribe the number of specimen(s).


Locality indicates details of the collection event and location. Please transcribe verbatim. If missing, please write "NA".


If present on the card, please enter the details about the "Station" or marine, freshwater, or terrestrial field station associated with the collecting event. If missing, please write "NA".


If present, please transcribe as written. If missing, please write "NA".

When Collected

If present, please enter in YYYY-MM-DD format. If missing, please write "NA".

Collected By

Please transcribe the name of the person or team in Last Name, First Name format.

Received By

If present, please transcribe the name of the person or team in Last Name, First Name format. If other text, please transcribe as written. If missing, please write "NA".


If present, please transcribe the name of the person or team in Last Name, First Name format. If other text, please transcribe as written. If missing, please write "NA".

Identified By

The person or team that identified the specimen(s) should be entered in the "Identified By" field. Keep in mind that sometimes "Det." is used to signify the identifying party.

Identified Date

If present, please enter using the YYYY-MM-DD format. If missing, please write "NA".

Acc. No.

The "Acc. No." field indicates accession number and should be transcribed as written. If missing, please write "NA".

Collection Date

This is the date the specimen was collected. Please transcribe the date using YYYY-MM-DD notation. The date may be as little as “1888” or “May 1888” or sometimes even “188-“ . If missing, leave blank. In the example about, the date is “1902-07-17”. If a range, please indicate earlier date in first field and latter date in second field.


Please transcribe the remarks verbatim. If missing, please leave blank.

Notes Section & Additional Information

The notes section is only for communicating any questions or concerns to Smithsonian staff, as well as other volunteers, about this transcription. For instance, if you aren't sure about an entry in a field and want to explain your decision. Please do not delete information from this field, even if you have "resolved" the question. Leave the text in place and create a response after it. Please apply this approach across projects in the Smithsonian Transcription Center and leave the notes.

Additional Information on Page

Outside of the specific fields identified above, please do not attempt to capture any additional information on the page, including:

  • Stack
  • Shelf
  • Size
  • The preprinted text on the card