summary:slide index ideas

James W. Perry jperry at UWC.EDU
Wed Jan 22 15:38:10 EST 1997

I'm finishing taking care of my guilt complex over not summarizing responses
that I received concerning how to organize 35 mm slides. Below is a summary
of the input I received. Thanks to all of you who responded.
>Among all the important academic questions, I wonder if anyone would care to
>share their knowledge of a computerized index for thousands of Kodachrome
>2x2 slides? Is there a good system that you have developed or purchased? I
>am getting to the point where I spend way too much time searching for the
>slide that I just *know* I have but cannot locate. Presently I have them in
>transparent envelopes (20 per page) and the pages in three ring binders.
>Diversity (bacteria --> angiosperms), Anatomy (cells --> tissues -->
>organs), Ecology, Plant Pathology, etc. You'd think that would do it but...

From: kramer.8 at (David W. Kramer)

I haven't done this but I would guess that the simplest solution is generic
spreadsheet/database software like Excel or even those components of a
Works-type package.  You could design a simple set of "fields" for a data
entry form that could be input by a student.  You might need to come along
later and supply the scientific name or some other detail but a student
could do most of the data entry.  The data base could then be used to
generate tables, lists, etc.  "Sort" and "Find" routines could be used.

If you want to get fancy, there is software that can be used to organize a
digitized collection of images... even to the point of providing thumbnail
images in the index.
You can find ads for these in most computer magazines, especially those for
the graphics folks.

From: John Clausz <jclausz at>

You need some data base to keep track of your slides. I am using
Pro-Cite to keep track of my reprint collection. But this database is
also capable of characterizing each of thousands of items, such as
slides, so that you can search the data base to find the item (slide)
you want. The big problem is to get all the slides into the data base
the first time. With each slide you'll have a reference number -
probably to you notebooks containing the slide holders. So when you
search for a sunflower stem vascular bundle, you are tole to which
notebook and page to find your slide. I do this with the reprint
collection and it works nicely. As I said the big problem is getting all
the data in there the first time. But if you have student workers,
that's a nice job for someone. Good luck.

From: Kay Lancaster <klier at>

I use "Papyrus", a bibliographic data base I purchased for $100, for
my slides, too.  It's a very adaptable bibliographic system (even
accepts downloads from some of the mainframe bibliographic systems
like Silver Platter), and also handles quotes, etc.

As a taxonomist, most of my slides are of a single species.  So I
use the binomial in the "author name" field (which is what it
sorts on most of the time), a short description in the title field,
and any keywords I want or need in the keywords field (which are
essentially limitless).  The program assigns a unique identifier
number to each entry; I use the "make custom bibliography" feature
to print out labels with the id# and "author" (binomial) to the
small Avery labels that fit 2x2 slides (I think they're 1/4 x 1 1/2").

Slides that show multiple species I catalog with the author as
whatever I intended when I took the photo: e.g. "kettle moraine",
"Kew: mixed perennial border", etc.

I file by family then genus and species in bulk slide boxes; if I
move a slide someplace else semi-permanently (eg to lecture reel #4),
I note that in the "notes" section.  That's easy to re-edit if I move
it again.

When I want to know what slides I have of acorns, for instance, I
can do a "custom bibliography" of Author = Quercus and keyword = fruit,
and it prints out a list immediately.  

For me, it's been very easy to use.

The papyrus manual is quite good, the writing clear (and funny!),
and the interface quite simple.

From: Dave Williams <PROFDHW at>

Nothing beats a good database application. I use ClarisWorks. It's database
is nearly full featured and easy as heck to use. It is available in both Mac
and Windows formats. Nothing beats the flexibility of designing you own
database file for your slides.

From: Mary Barkworth <stipoid at>

I can think of no way round other than cataloging - and I plan to do ours as
soon as we have the assisstance to help.  Basically, using my favorite
database program to store the information about each slide (inlcuding
voucher specimen, if known), then create a barcode label for the slide.  We
file most by family, but I can see filing some in another manner (we refers
to the herbarium) at which point a combination of the database and accession
number looks like the way to go.  We are also lucky enough to have a cabinet
that allows us to see around 2000 slides, but that is a luxury.  One year
that the state was rich and the ag expt station thought it would be a good
idea for us to have slides available.  

From: "Janice M. Glime" <jmglime at>

  I store my slides in those grey boxes with sections (not slots) that
hold about 600 slides.  A particular topic is all in one box, so plant
taxonomy slides occupy about 10 boxes organized by family, then genus and
species in alphabetical order.  That way, I can find them, and my
assistant can file them.  Each slide is labelled with its family and
scientific name.  Animals are filed by phylum, then order if it is a big
group, and on down the same as the plants.  Morphology is filed by
division, then whatever group level I teach, and then genus and species. 
Within that species, I usually arrange the life cycle in order, but even
if it gets out of order, at least all of them are together.
Scenic and habitat slides are arranged by state, then location.  I usually
remember where I have seen certain habitats, so I can relocate them.  I
used to color code the top of the slides by season (never needed that
info), and habitat, but that got to be too time consuming.

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