February 2023 Star Notes Update

In our next office hour meeting in February, we will talk through the difficulties of transcription & answer your questions!

Hello everyone,

This is Sydney and Katie, Star Notes and Project PHaEDRA researchers. We hope that your year has started off great! Thank you for remaining interested in our work and for volunteering your time to help with our research! We appreciate your effort to learn about the history of women in astronomy, as well as preserve the research of the Harvard College Observatory. 

The next Project PHaEDRA office hour will take place on Tuesday, February 14th at 2pm. We will meet to discuss the Smithsonian Transcription Center project, focusing on the nitty-gritty of transcribing and formatting the content in the logbooks, particularly the more difficult pages. Come with your questions ready and examples of pages that make you say, “What?” and we will talk through it! You can register for this meeting here.

Our March office hour will be slightly different from normal. It will be on Thursday, March 16th, at 7pm. We will be collaborating with the Natural History Society of Maryland for their “Must Learn Thursdays” programming! We will be giving an introductory presentation on Project PHaEDRA and the history behind it. You can find the meeting link here and read more about the Natural History Society of Maryland here!

We are planning to create a commemorative book about Project PHaEDRA to celebrate the completion of phase one of Star Notes. This book will cover the history of the project and explain our motivations for transcribing the notebooks. We would like to include volunteer perspectives and contributions in the book. Some examples could include: interviews with volunteers, a contributors list, interesting finds, and guest essays. If you are interested in shaping the direction of the book and/or contributing to it, please fill out this short three-question survey.

The second phase of Star Notes asks volunteers to identify any non-textual material in the PHaEDRA logbooks, including astronomical sketches, graphs, and inserted material. As always, we are available on the talk boards to answer any questions you may have about the new workflow, as well as discuss your interesting new findings! 

On the Smithsonian Transcription Center, we have just added 139 notebooks belonging to Annie Jump Cannon and 51 notebooks belonging to sisters Muriel Mussells and Sylvia Mussells, so you can expect to see those notebooks live soon. The notebooks we are currently transcribing belong to Williamina P. Fleming and Evelyn F. Leland. For Women’s History Month in March, we have created a mini collection of four notebooks belonging to Women Astronomical Computers who made observations at the Maria Mitchell Observatory while associated with Harvard. This collection contains notebooks belonging to Margaret Harwood and Dorrit Hoffleit, who both served as directors for the Maria Mitchell Observatory after their time at Harvard, and along with the work of other familiar names like Frances Woodworth Wright. You can expect to see these notebooks on the Transcription Center next month!

If you’re a volunteer looking to get credit for your work on our project, please fill out this Google Form to receive a volunteer confirmation on Center for Astrophysics letterhead (you will need to sign in to a Google account to submit the form. If you don’t have a Google account, you can send an email to sydney.evans@cfa.harvard.edu). As always, if you have any questions for us, or if there’s anything that we can do to help, you can contact us or find us on the talk boards. Have a great month!

Sydney & Katie
Project PHaEDRA Team, Wolbach Library
Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
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