Citizen Science Day 2018

April 14 is #CitizenScienceDay! Help us celebrate by becoming citizen scientists yourselves! By transcribing and reviewing Smithsonian collections of scientic research from around the world, you'll help spread discoveries, and accelerate science, technology, and innovation.


Spread the Word!

Use the designated hashtags, #CitSciDay2018 and #CitizenScience, to spread the word about all your hard work. And feel free to call on other #volunpeers to help you out. #WeLearnTogether!

The United States Nationl Museum, Department of Birds contains many specimens of historical importance. The first group of specimens collected by the Department originated from the private collection of Spencer Fullerton Baird, who collected in the Carlisle, Pennsylvania region in the early 1840's and later became the second Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Baird's collection also contained material from leading American naturalists in the early 1800's such as J. J. Audubon, and J. K. Townsend. Another early component of their collection derived from the U.S. Exploring Expedition from 1838-1842, commanded by Captain Wilkes of the U.S. Navy. Many birds were obtained from all around the world by the resident naturalist of the expedition, T. R. Peale. The departmetn also holds specimens from other early boundary surveys and expeditions seeking railroad and telegraph routes to the west during the 1850's and 1860's. Theodore Roosevelt collected birds as a boy and also as a member of the Smithsonian African Expedition; his specimens also form part of the USNM collection. Finally, a major portion of the collection has been derived from the activities of the U.S. Biological Survey, which actively collected over much of North America from the 1890's to 1930's. The Division of Birds, as it's now called, is part of the National Museum of Natural History's Department of Vertebrate Zoology, and currently houses and maintains the third largest bird collection in the world, with over 640,000 specimens. 

See Related ResourceNMNH Department of Vertebrate Zoology: Division of Birds and Related Transcription Project: USNM Curators Annual Reports- Department of Birds: Monthly Reports, 1889-1890 from the Smithsonian Institution Archives. 

At Harvard College Observatory (now the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), women computers studied glass plate photographs of the night sky. Here they catalogued stars, identifying variables, interpreting stellar spectra, counting galaxies, and measuring the vast distances in space. Several of them made game-changing discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics. Love astronomy? Help us transcribe the work of these groundbreaking women see which stars shine the brightest. 

See Related Resource: Project PHaEDRA and Related Transcription Project: Annie Jump Cannon Niptotebooks, Henrietta Swan Leavitt Notebooks, Cecilia Payne-Gposchkin Notebooks.




Margaret Collins

Margaret Collins’ interest in termites was sparked by her chance reading of a children’s book on the insect that she happened upon while studying at the University of Chicago. Her fascination with the specimen led Collins to become the first African American, female entomologist, teaching at three universities, and performing research at many institutions. In addition to being a pioneer in her field, Collins was a civil rights leader among her fellow black scientists. “A lot of people opposed our civil rights efforts. I had to do what I thought was the most important thing. That’s all there was to it.” 

See Related Resources: 

See Related Resources: Field Notes From a Termite Lady, Smithsonian Field Book Project Blog, November 6, 2012; Warren, Wini. 1999, Black Women Scientists in the United States, Bloomington: Indiana University Press and Related Transcription Project: Margaret S. Collins- Combat Data, Suriname, Notes, 1982 from the Smithsonian Institution Archives. 




Arthur Wilson Stelfox (1883-1972), Irish naturalist and entomologist, was born in Belfast and studied architecture in Ireland and England. While practicing that profession, Stelfox also did some work in natural history and served as secretary of the Belfast Naturalists Field Club. In 1920, he received appointment as Assistant Naturalist at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, where he specialized in the Hymenoptera (the large order of insects comprising the sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants). Following his retirement in 1948, Stelfox continued to build his collections, and donated them to the Smithsonian in 1966.Naturalist, Arthur W. Stelfox's fasination with bees was strong, and his extensive field notes reflect his research on the insect. In his seventh volume of field notes, he travels to both east and west coasts of southern Ireland. 

See Related ResourceArthur Wilson Stelfox Papers, 1904-1967 and Related Transcription Project: A. Stelfox Field Notes, Volume 7, 1935-1936 from the Smithsonian Institution Archives.




Over half of the approximately 5 million specimens housed in the U.S. National Herbarium now have a digital record, and are available for searching and exploring online through the National Museum of Natural History's Department of Botany specimen catalog. Thanks to the hard work of our #volunpeers in the Transcription Center, many of these have also been fully inventoried and transcribed! But there's more to be done. Check out new projects and learn more about Smithsonian botanical specimens. 

See Related Resources: The Plant Press: A Quarterly Newsletter from the Botany Department (NMNH) and the U.S. National Herbarium and Related Transcription Projects: Gesneriaceae collection.





From a young age, Waldo Schmitt developed an early history in natural history and studied the flora and fauna of his hometown, Washington, D.C. and nearby Maryland. This facsination led him to study science at George Washington University and the University of California, and eventually resulted in his appointment as Curator of the DIvision of Marine Invertebrates at the United States National Museum. Schmitt's primary field of zoological investigation was carcinology, with a special emphasis on the decapod crustaceans (the order that includes crabs, lobsters, and shrimp), and he conducted extensive research on behalf of the Smithsonian Institution thorughout the twentieth century. In 1938, he was chosen by the White House to accompany President Franklin D. Roosevelt as Naturalist on the Presidential Cruise to Clipperton, Cocos, and the Galapagos Islands, and during 1941 and 1942, Schmitt spent time on special detail with the United States Navy investigating the possibility of establishing a biological station in the Galapagos Islands. His field notes from his expedition to the Galapagos include a variety of details on not only the wildlife and plants in the area, but also the personal and professional relationships developed, and the issues Dr. Schmitt thought needed to be addressed in order to make the biological research station a reality. 

See Related Resources: Waldo LeSalle Schmitt Collections in the Smithsonian Institution Archives and Related Transcription Project: U.S. Navy Galapagos Expedition 1941: Miscellaneous Notes (2 of 3).