The Missouri Botanical Garden has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to digitize natural history illustrations for the Biodiversity Heritage Library.
The immediate connection between the NEH and the Biodiversity Heritage Library was not clear to me, but it is strong. These images (in addition to being sumptuous displays of flora) are the history of science. They are the documentation of the past that tells a story about how we have come to understand the world. This is the place where science and the humanities meet.
Currently the collection is housed and manually managed on Flickr, but the grant will enable the library to build a more sophisticated collection management tool. There will now be multiple access points to this freely available resource. We can’t wait!
The biodiversity library includes images of birds by John James Audubon. If you are around the University of Illinois campus be sure to check out the Audubon display case on the second floor of the Main Library.