Papered Dragonflies
Papered Dragonflies taken by a volunteer as part of the Digitisation Project. Image: Frederique Devaux
© Australian Museum

Find out what we are working on now.

Recently, the family of Edgar Waite in South Australia loaned a 73 volume series of field diaries to the Australian Museum to be digitised by volunteers in the DigiVol lab. Edgar was a leading zoologist, ichthyologist, herpetologist and ornithologist and early in his career, he was an assistant curator in vertebrates at the Australian Museum.

These diaries, set against the late C19th and early C20th make very interesting reading of his natural history observations, pencil or pen and ink drawings and his inclusions of newspaper articles, photographs and postcards. Volunteers are very respectful of the responsibility they have in handling such valuable records with care. One of the pleasures for volunteers digitising field diaries is the mystery surrounding each field diary which will only be revealed with the turning of each page. Our virtual volunteers are now busy transcribing some of his diaries into text on the DigiVol portal (formerly Biodiversity Volunteer Portal, BVP) which can then be enjoyed by the broader community.

Our busy volunteers are working their way through the huge Malacology Collection and have taken 45,000 images. Often, we research different species to learn more about their description, distribution and habitat. The beauty of the Manus green tree snail species piqued our interest and is unfortunately endangered because they are in demand for making jewellery and to shell collectors. In fact, a volunteer was browsing in a jewellery shop and impressed the owner with her knowledge of a piece of jewellery made of the snail.

Mel Ward’s crab collection continues to amaze us with their variety in size, shape and colour. Volunteers get to “glove up’ when handling the specimens and ‘play detective’ as they research whether the original identification of the specimen’s family is still current.

We are also working on Gunter Theischinger’s donated dragonfly collection which has its challenges due to the fragility of the specimens. A volunteer’s attention to detail and dexterity are challenged when handling these beautiful dragonflies but as you can see from the photos, they do have fun!