January 24, 2018 – “That’s a Datura”

Hello, everyone!

I hope everyone enjoyed the week, but it is time once more to regale the day’s events at the University of Central Florida Library Special Collections and University Archives. The Ed Gantner Collection has entered its final stage, more research was conducted for the Arthur S. Barclay Collection, and the issues need to be resolved still are on the agenda for this post. So, without further ado, let the recounting commence!

The first task at hand was to finish edits regarding the Ed Gantner Collection Finding Aid. Ms. Rubin handed back the draft of the finding I had submitted last week with what needed to be changed. I promptly made the corrections and informed Ms. Rubin once they were completed. Unfortunately, Ms. Rubin had accidentally mislabeled the name of the collection as the “Ed Ganter Collection” (an “n” is missing), so that will be the last bit of business regarding that collection. Ms. Rubin said the finding aid would be finalized by next week, so when it becomes available there will be a link to it here on the blog. Please look forward to it.

The Arthur S. Barclay Collection now is the current project I am processing. I began by reviewing what is going to be the biographical entry before moving to the actual content of the collection. The collection contains photographs and slides regarding research or recreation from Dr. Barclay’s life. It is part of my job to fill in the blanks as there is few context points to refer to regarding these photographs.

For example, there is a collection of photographs of a car accident involving Dr. Barclay while he was traveling as part of the Department of Agriculture (as evident by the decals on his vehicle), but when and where this took place is unknown. In of the photographs, there is a sign (or a stand) in the background, so perhaps if the picture was scanned and the image was zoomed in, then maybe the sign could be a clue to where this accident happened happened. As for when this happened, the only clue I could think of was the vehicle itself.

Dr. Barclay was hired by the Department of Agriculture in 1959 and worked through its branches until 1980, but was a field researcher early in his career. So, with that context, finding the model, maker, and production year of the vehicle he drove would narrow it down. Unfortunately, I do not recognize the logo of the maker that is in front of the vehicle. I am planning to reach out to the Society of Automotive Historians (SAH, http://autohistory.org/) with hopes of identifying the vehicle. But, there is is some good news regarding the collection.

In this collection, there are four folders of pictures of plants that can only surmised as samples Dr. Barclay took for his research. By identifying a cactus in one of the photographs, I was able to conclude that these photographs were taken in either the American southwest or northern Mexico. From there, I began comparing the native flora from the region to what was pictured. The first contender was Proboscidea parviflora, better known as Devil’s Claw, but upon further inspection of the black and white photographs, there where some discrepancies.

However, further evidence of the plants in question came from the fruit and leaves that were pictured. The prime contender is Datura wrightii, better known as Sacred Datura or Jimsonweed. The species of the deadly plant is native to the region and Dr. Barclay did operate in the area  for a good portion of his career as a field researcher. I am familiar with the datura plant as it is a bomb ingredient in the video game Assassin’s Creed: Revelations that kills enemies instantly when the toxins are released. Like its video game counterpart, every portion of the plant is poisonous to humans and animals especially the plant’s seeds.

Could this sampling of the datura plant been part of the cancer research that lead to the creation of Taxol? While pondering that thought, there are slides that either come from the 1970s that involve Dr. Barclay visiting Potomac, Maryland where his family is from or his 1956 trip to Colombia (probably as he was a student). There was a collection of slides that stood out from the rest.

I called attention to Mr. Ogreten on these slides, which look to be colored depictions of the datura plants from earlier and some of them seem to be labeled with “Jan 62” on the back. Mr. Ogreten found a website that displayed what the Kodiak slides looked like through the eras and printed the page out. It seemed to line up. But, further work still needs to be done. Before leaving for the day, I began the effort of gathering the authority links in my notes that would be later used on the finding aid and the list became very long. At 2:00 PM, I ceased my work, logged off, and said my farewells to the staff.

Before closing this post, aside from the further work on the Arthur S. Barclay Collection, the request of the last volumes of Minutes of the Annual Convention of The United Daughters of The Confederacy still have not been fulfilled. I hope they come soon as I would love to finalize everything regarding the medals to the best of my ability. If not, there will always be that nagging question of “Did I do enough?” each time I look at the finding aid.

So, this concludes the recap of this week. Hopefully next week more progress will be made regarding the Arthur S. Barclay Collection, a link to the completed Ed Gantner Collection will be available, and with any luck my interlibrary loan request will be fulfilled. Until then, enjoy the weekend and stay safe. Bye!

Author: 57r3l574d

I am currently a Graduate Student at the University of Central Florida and simultaneously employed by the university library's Special Collections and University Archives as a Other Personnel Service (OPS) Student. Expected to graduate in 2019 with a History MA - Public History Track.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s