Gray Herbarium Index is Internet Accessible

Jim Beach beach at HUH.HARVARD.EDU
Tue Dec 15 13:46:36 CST 1992

Harvard University Gray Herbarium Index Database

Notes on the Provisional Release
15 December 1992

The Gray Herbarium Index Database currently includes 287,225 records of
New World vascular plant taxa at the level of species and below.  The
information is now accessible over the Internet via keyword searches from
the E-mail Data Server and through the Biodiversity and Biological
Collections Gopher (see below).

All of the current records are marked 'Provisional' reflecting the fact
that they have not been verified or edited following keystroke data entry.
We are aware of minor fielding problems particularly with the names of
authors (e. g. with the designation of "in" authors) and with complex
title entries.

Absent from this provisional release are about 10,000 records which
represent cards from the master set that were excluded from the keystroke
data-entry project for some of the following reasons: 1) they are
quadrinomials or higher and should be cleaned up; 2) they appear to be
"sensu" names & so should be checked before entry into the database; 3)
they appear as nomina nova - many of these should be checked before
database-entry; 4) they appear as nomina nuda - again these should be
checked. Also excluded from keystroke entry were names of genera and of
taxa of hybrid origin.

We are making the Gray Herbarium Index Database available to the community
as text records, formatted to resemble the original printed card layout,
during the period that we are editing and verifying the 'raw data' to
eliminate mistakes in fielding and to reconcile inconsistencies which have
arisen as the result of almost 100 years of compilation.  The verification
phase of the project will probably continue into late 1993.  When that
verification and update has been completed, the Gray Index records will be
released in a data format for local institutional and project use.

In the meantime, we encourage comments and suggestions.

Queries about editorial content and coverage of the Index should be sent
to Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (eshaw at

Queries about network access should be sent to Dr. Jim Beach
(beach at

Internet Gopher Access

The Internet Gopher is a network protocol and a set of network programs
which provide access to numerous Internet information resources.  The
Gopher system includes two types of applications: - Gopher 'servers' which
index and manage the information and Gopher 'clients' which provide a menu
interface for the network of servers.

Client programs are available for several types of computers including DOS
PCs, Macintoshes, Unix, OS/2, and VMS.  To use Gopher you need a desktop
computer, or an account on a computer, which is connected directly (i.e.
over network cabling) to the Internet.  Gopher has many useful features for
locating and downloading information for local use.

We have put a copy of the Gray Index Database into the "Biodiversity and
Biological Collections" Gopher server.  It is accessible through the
master Gopher list at the University of Minnesota, or through a direct
Gopher connection to the computer: 70.

The Gopher copy of the Gray Index Database is keyword indexed and supports
the boolean search operators: and, or and not.  The Gopher software also
permits string searches in addition to boolean operations by accepting
quoted text in the search specification.

E-mail Data Server Access

The E-mail Data Server delivers Gray Index data over the Internet and over
any network with a mail gateway to it.  The system accepts keyword queries
within mail messages.  Any meaningful word found in the Gray Index may be
used in a query including: generic names, specific epithets, locality
information, collectors' names, etc.

     In addition to the Gray Herbarium Index, three botanical specimen
databases are accessible via the E-mail Data Server:

     1)   Type specimens of the mint family from the Harvard
          Herbaria, comprising 1100 records

     2)   The complete herbarium catalog of the Michigan State
          University, W. K. Kellogg Biological Station Herbarium,
          an NSF LTER site, consisting of 6000 specimen records

     3)   The Flora of Mt. Kinabalu (Sabah, Borneo) specimen
          database of 16,300 specimen records of known vascular
          plant collections from the mountain

E-mail addresses for sending queries are:

     Gray Herbarium Index:    graycard at
       Harvard Mint Types:    herbdata at
        Kellogg Herbarium:    herbdata%kbs.decnet at
    Flora of Mt. Kinabalu:    herbdata at


     To use the E-mail data server, send an e-mail message to the
server containing two commands.  The first should specify which
taxa to retrieve based on keywords within the text of the records.
The second command informs the mail server of the address to send
replies.  Additional formatting and help commands are available but
are optional.

     The commands the server understands are: "help"   "format="
"replyaddress="  and  "keyword=".  It does not matter whether the
commands are in uppercase or lowercase characters, and they may be
abbreviated as shown below.  Each e-mail query should not contain
more than one of each of the commands.

Command Syntax


     If in a message by itself, the E-Mail server attempts to
     return this file as a help message.  This message is also
     returned if the server receives a query with incorrect

keyword=   ;
k=         ;

In the format: keyword = word1 or word2 or word3 ... ;
            or k = word1 or word2 or word3 ... ;

     These are the keywords for which you are seeking matches.  The
     semicolon at the end of the keyword specification is required.
     "Or" should be used to separate multiple keywords.

format=format number;      <- Note: semicolon is required
f=format number;

     This determines the format of the data in the return mail
     message to you.

Acceptable values for format number for the Gray Index Database are:

Number    Description of Output Format              Output Width
------    --------------------------------------    ------------

1         First line of each matching record             80
2         Text image of full Gray Index record           80

If the format option is omitted, the default value is 2.
(Other format options are available for the specimen databases.)


     The semicolon at the end of the line is required.  The reply
     address may be any legal BITNET or Internet address.  Mail
     users on gatewayed networks such as BITNET, JANET, MCIMail,
     Compuserve, etc., need to specify the appropriate form of
     their address for mail coming from an Internet host.  For
     example, BITNET users should add the domain ".bitnet" to the
     end of their BITNET host computer name as shown in the example

Examples:   r=gmendel at austrivm.bitnet;            (BITNET)
            r=agray at;              (Internet)
            r=cdarwin at;  (JANET)

Example Queries

EXAMPLE 1: Searching for a genus

     To: graycard at

     r=wallace at austriavm.bitnet;   (BITNET host named "austriavm")

EXAMPLE 2:  Searching for an author or collector name

     To: graycard at

     keyword=Cronquist or Beaman;
     replyaddress=jones at;


James H. Beach                                      beach at
Museum of Comparative Zoology,                      Tel: (617) 495-1912
Herbaria, Arnold Arboretum                          Fax: (617) 495-9484
22 Divinity Avenue
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

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