collection DB design question

Alan Harvey aharvey at AMNH.ORG
Thu Dec 12 20:49:36 CST 1996


For the sake of efficient design of cataloging databases, consider the
following situation. Dr. X, who is at institution Y, borrows some specimens
from our museum, and we dutifully record her name and address (in the
computer, advanced beings that we are). Subsequently she moves to Z, and we
not surprisingly update our address files accordingly. While this makes
perfect sense, I was wondering if anyone knows of a situation in which we
would NOT want to update a person's address, i.e., for historical reasons.
For example, if Dr. X donated a collection of specimens while at Y, should
the _accession_ record connected to that gift be updated when she moves to
Z, or remain a static document? This question may sound trivial, but it
affects the way our cataloging database will be designed. I think it would
be easier if we didn't have to juggle multiple addresses for each person in
the database itself. What about "retiring" previous addresses, with dates,
to a separate file whenever a change is made, so the information isn't

Thanks in advance for any thoughts on this.




Alan W. Harvey (aharvey at
Assistant Curator of Invertebrates
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024
(212) 769-5638; fax (212) 769-5783

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