Museum Acronyms

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Wed Jul 24 11:44:27 CDT 2002


The 4 letter CODEN (not acronyms) are a vestigal feature of the original
version of Ross Arnett's directory to entomological collection. Back then
they had IBM punch cards and 4 columns were reserved for the CODEN. Hence,
Ross added another letter for those collection which used only 3 letters in
their official ACRONYMs. Hence, MCZ became MCZC, etc.

Sorry, Andrew, but once some of us had hoped that we could have
standardized acronyms, like the Botanical community has. The purpose was be
able to create unique barcodes, where the code would have the alpha acronym
for the collection, followed by a sequential number. Such as INBIO000222445
or USNM ENT 00012345. Then intelligent programs could parse the barcode,
then go onto the Internet and retrive the specimen label data from the
appropriate database.

Unfortunately, that was a dream.


F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., ARS, USDA
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D. C. 20560-0169
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at [NB: no terminal "n"]
visit our Diptera site at

>>> Andrew Smith <asmith at UNLSERVE.UNL.EDU> 07/24 11:06 AM >>>
Dear Robin

In my opinion, as long as the acronyms are clearly defined in the
paper, it doesn't really matter if different authors use different
variations (CNC vs. CNCI, SMUK vs. SEMC, BM vs. BMNH etc.).  The four
letter standards I often use can be found on the Bishop Museum
(otherwise known as the BPBM) website at:


>Hi Taxacomers,
>Does anyone have access to an approved/accepted list of acronyms for
>the world's museums?  Is it on a website somewhere where I can take
>a peek?
>I know that one had the acronym SMUK (Snow Museum, University of
>Kansas), but that this was somehow later turned around.
>In particular, I am under the impression that all, or perhaps most
>all, museums were to be designated with a 4-letter acronym.  The one
>in Ottawa used to be CNC (Canadian National Collection) - full stop.
>Then I heard/read that it is now the CNCI (Canadian National
>Collection of Insects).
>Can anyone confirm for me if the latter is now correct?
>Robin Leech
>Edmonton, Alberta

Andrew B. T. Smith
W436 Nebraska Hall
Division of Entomology
University of Nebraska State Museum
Lincoln, NE 68588-0514  U.S.A.

Phone:  (402) 472-2664
Fax:    (402) 472-8949
E-mail: asmith at


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