Jennifer Bryant (formerly J. Moore) J.Bryant at NHM.AC.UK
Fri Apr 28 12:03:45 CDT 2000

From:  The Botany Department, The Natural History Museum,
        Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, U.K.

Please ignore this message if you have already received it before.


Dear Curator,

May I introduce Cynthia Woo, a student at Leicester University, who is
studying for an M. A. in Museum Studies. As part of this course and, in
collaboration with the Natural History Museum, London, she is researching
liquid-preserved botanical collections.
The storage of botanical material in liquid preservative appears to be less
well researched than that for zoological material; previous attempts to
locate experimental work on suitable preservatives and methods has proved
negative. It appears that most curators use inherited systems or adapt the
methods of their zoological colleagues.
Please find attached a form requiring your assistance. If you have
botanical material in liquid could we ask you to spare some time completing
this questionnaire?
Cynthia will be collating your data for this six-week project's initial
phase before May 15th and we are, therefore, anxious to receive your data
over the next two weeks.
Many thanks for your consideration and time. A negative reply, indicating
you have no experience of these collections, will also be helpful.

Jenny Bryant
Curator of Algae
E-Mail: jem at nhm.ac.uk
19th April 2000

1. Do you have any liquid preserved botanical collections?      Y / N

2. How many specimens do you have in your collection? (This could be
calculated by the number of jars or the number of specimens)


3. Please indicate the type(s) of containers you have used, their
proportions out of your whole collection (approximately), how effective
they preserve liquid from evaporation and how many years have they been
used? Please also indicate any particular reason why you have chosen these
types of containers for your collection.

I. Ground glass-stoppered jars          Y / N          ______%
Effective / Acceptable / Not effective     ______Years
Reason for using:

II. Kilner-Style jars          Y / N          ______%
Effective / Acceptable / Not effective     ______Years
Reason for using:

III. Jars with Bakelite lids         Y / N          ______%
Effective / Acceptable / Not effective     ______Years
Reason for using:

IV. Jars with aluminium lids          Y / N          ______%
Effective / Acceptable / Not effective     ______Years
Reason for using:

V. "Danish" (Grathwol) jars with plastic snap-on lids    Y / N  ______%
Effective / Acceptable / Not effective     ______Years
Reason for using:

VI. The LeParfait jars          Y / N          ______%
Effective / Acceptable / Not effective     ______Years
Reason for using:

VII. Honey jars (with small glass tubes)          Y / N       ______%
Effective / Acceptable / Not effective     ______Years
Reason for using:

VIII. Others (Please indicate)      Y / N          ______%
Effective / Acceptable / Not effective     ______Years
Reason for using:

4. Please also indicate any particular sealing techniques you have used.
(e.g. Pig's bladder technique etc; and how well does it work.)

Sealing technique:
Effective     /     Acceptable     /     Not effective

5. If sealing materials are used, please tick the boxes below as
appropriate and indicate their effectiveness.

Materials:     Wax     /     Parafilm     /     Rubber band
Other materials:

Effective     /     Acceptable     /     Not effective


6. What kind of storage do you use for your liquid preserved collection?
(e.g. cabinets, open shelves, metal sliding-drawer system, etc.)

Cabinets     /     Open shelves     /     Sliding- drawers

7. Why have you chosen this kind of storage?

Based on current museum practice?          Y / N
Based on personal experience?          Y / N
Using storage already available?          Y / N

Other reasons:

8. Is there any health, safety and security requirement governing the kind
of storage and spirits you use for liquid preservation?

9. Was the storage purpose built for meeting your requirements?
Y / N / Not sure

10. Did the building already exist before you used it as storage?
Y / N / Not sure

11. How do you care for and maintain your collection?

12. Are RH and temperature controlled in the building?          Y / N

13. What fire precautions or fire control methods do you use?


14. What preserving liquid do you use? (Formalin, Alcohol, Acetic Acid, etc.)
If it is a mixture, please indicate the percentage of each solution it

15. What kind of test do you use to ascertain the preserving liquid if you
are not sure of what it comprises?

16. Do you use more than one preservative? If so, please give details and
the reason why you are using this method?


17. What kind of paper do you use for labels?

18. How do you mark the labels? (Please also indicate what type of ink,
pen, pencil or printer you use, if known)

Hand-written :

19. Do you put labels inside or outside the jars?

Inside     /     Outside     /     Both

20. If labels are glued on jars, what kind of glue do you use?

21. What data do you put on the label? (I for inside, O for outside, B for

Specimen ID number ____       Barcode number ____        Jar number____

Name of specimen ____    Geographical data ____      Status ____

Collector data ____      Date of collection ____     Storage location ____

Measurements ____     Preparation / Preservation method ____



22. How do you arrange the material within the collection? (Systematically,
in groups of jar size or added to an existing run?)

Systematically    /  In groups of jar size  /   Added to an existing run
Other methods:

23. How do you record specimen data?

Recording cards    /    Museum in-house forms   /    Database

24. If a database is used, how long has your museum been using a database
for cataloguing?

25. What kind of software or program do you use?

26. Do you find that using a database is easier for accessioning your
Y / N

27. Do you find a database is easier for accessing data about your collection?
Y / N

Please give additional information to supplement your answers to the
questions on the previous pages.

Can you also recommend any other sources (websites, books or articles) for
accessing information required by this survey?

Thank you very much for your time.

I shall be very grateful for a speedy reply and request that the form be
returned before 12th May 2000.

Please reply to Cynthia Woo
Contact telephone: 0207-942-5875
E-mail: cynthiawoo at hotmail.com

Ms Jennifer Bryant (formerly Jenny Moore)
Curator of Algae
Botany Department
The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London, SW7 5BD
Tel.(+44)(0)20 7942 5004
Fax.(+44)(0)20 7942 5529
E-mail. jem at nhm.ac.uk

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