If you have the time, I highly recommend physically re-labeling the specimens.   

We had the same thing happen with a bunch of our specimens. They only had a locality number and a date. We were able to figure out where each number referred to and made new full labels for each specimen. 

It’s not very elegant, but my solution was to place “-Retroactive Label-“ at the bottom of each label. In the above case, all the specimens came from a particular collection, so we added a note ("Smith Collection" or something like that). 

I do it with det. labels, too, but don't add a note (the first specimen in a series has a real det. label and I want to continue that for the rest of the specimens). 

Soon we are going to have to relabel specimens because the labels are currently decaying (anyone with recommendations on how to de-acidify label paper?). I've thought of photographing the labels and reprinting them on archival paper, or transcribing them, or printing the transcription on the back side of the photo.  

See attached pdf for the sign I put on the cabinets to explain what's going on. 



On Tue, Sep 10, 2019 at 2:07 PM Brower, Andrew V - APHIS <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

How about putting the uncertain/inferred data between brackets, as is done with subsequently inferred authorship and publication dates in nomenclature? 



Andrew Brower, Ph.D.

Assistant Director, National Identification Services (NIS)

USDA APHIS PPQ Plant Health Programs

4700 River Rd., Unit 52

Riverdale, MD 20737

Office phone:  (301) 851-2243

Mobile phone: (240) 315-4408


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From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Nicole Gunter
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 1:15 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: specimen labels for restored data


Hi everyone,


We recently made a breakthrough that allows us to restore specimen data that has historically been disassociated. The specimens in case only have a single label with a catalogue number that was used in the 1920s. These numbers can mostly be traced back to accession books with details including date of accession, description, number of objects and its acquisition (donation or fieldwork of the curator), range of specimen numbers, and occasional additional remarks such as the month of field work. Having confirmed the collector and a range of specimen numbers from a particular month and year, we have been able to cross reference digitized specimens to confirm the information from the accession book, and that these specimen numbers were systematically applied by collection event ordered by date. We believe that we are now able to restore the data for some of our specimens if they fall within a range of known catalogue numbers from a specific collection event. We could just add the information to a comments section in our database but I think there is utility in restoring the data directly to the specimen.


My question is does your collection restore specimen data with physical labels? If so how do you label these specimens? I feel I need to be explicit that the label is not a reprint/ replacement but instead that the data has been inferred from verifiable sources (our accession books that link it to a collector and a broad provenance, and then other specimens from the series that assist in narrowing it down to 1 or 2 events). Any suggestions would be appreciated.





Nicole L. Gunter PhD

Associate Curator of Invertebrate Zoology

Cleveland Museum of Natural History 

1 Wade Oval Drive

Cleveland, OH 44106

216.231.4600 x. 3282

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Michael L. Ferro
Collection Manager, Clemson University Arthropod Collection (CUAC)
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Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0310
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Subject Editor: The Coleopterists Bulletin; Insecta Mundi