standards across taxa

Steve Ginzbarg sginzbar at BIOLOGY.AS.UA.EDU
Wed Oct 27 17:18:32 CDT 1999

On Mon, 18 Oct 1999 Gail E. Kampmeier wrote

> For example, you may have a name that appears as "Smith" in some places,
> "C. Smith" in others, "C. W. Smith" in yet others or "Cecil Smith" in
> others.  These could all be the same person or 4 different ones.  In my
> database, they appear as 4 separate "people" unless we know for sure that
> they are all the same.  However, if you want to pull together all the
> things that a person has done (how many specimens has s/he determined,
> authored, illustrated, written about, etc.), it would be confusing.
> Activity dates would be helpful, knowing where someone worked/collected
> could also be important.  Do such files exist outside of botany and even in
> botany, are the records complete only for certain groups?

In order to avoid the problem of multiple name forms for the same
person, at UNA we will be requiring collectors to register before entering
their collection data in the database program (which both creates
specimen labels and stores the data in the database.) The collector
must enter their last name, date of birth, full name, and preferred
name (their name as they prefer it to appear on specimen labels). The
combination of date of birth and full name must be unique for each
record in the Person table. (We are, however, allowing date of birth
to be left blank since sometimes we must prepare labels for another
collector whose birthday is not easily obtained.) Only one preferred
name can be chosen for each date of birth - full name combination.
Registration sets the default for the Collector field in the
CollectingEvent table to the collector's PersonID in the Person table.
The collector's preferred name will appear on all the collection

For recording names retrospectively we have a separate PersonName
table with unique names. (One name, C. Smith, might have been used by
more than one collector.) In cases of well know collectors we can link
the person record in the Person table, FullName = "Cecil W. Smith"
(full name for retrospective data means name to the fullest extent
known) to the records in the PersonName table that represent variant
name forms used by Cecil W. Smith. The links are recorded in a third
table Person_PersonName with fields PersonID and PersonNameID.

All preferred names in the Person table are added to the names in the
PersonName table. This allows querying of names or querying of people.

-Steve Ginzbarg

Steve Ginzbarg, Assistant Curator
Herbarium (UNA)
Department of Biological Sciences
Box 870345
The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0345

(205) 348-1829, FAX: (205) 348-6460
sginzbar at

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