The Open Desk

Margie Beilharz

Freelance editor and writer in science, environment, education, health

Citizen science: Deciphering old specimen notes for the Natural History Museum

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Study skins of Garrulus glandarius in Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s another citizen science project – especially for those who have a good eye for old-fashioned handwriting. The Natural History Museum in London is being helped by online volunteers who are transcribing old hand-written descriptions of the 780,000+ bird specimens in their collection.

Some of the records date back to the 1830s but they were being handwritten up until 1990. Once in digital form, the records will be publicly accessible, so you would be helping out scientists around the world. It takes around 15 minutes per page.

Find out more at Notes for nature.


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