From slide to data: Botanical archive inventory

June 4th, 2024
Panos, Floris en Rob looking for slides

In May, the CollAction team inventoried more than 50,000 botanical slides from Wageningen University & Research. These are mostly photographs of plants in the field or in greenhouses. The team selected 3,000 slides to be included in our collection. These slides will be scanned and added to our database.

Panos Skandalos, Floris Heemskerk en Rob van den Berg looking for slide film.

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Big Archive of
botanical pictures

Naturalis has a large archive of notebooks, letters, maps with notes, photographs and slides. These collection items belong to famous and some less famous researchers who exchanged information with each other about expeditions, finds of nature and objects in our collection. Part of the Naturalis archive is the media library, with a large collection of films, photographs, slides, drawings and paintings. In it you will find pictures of plants in the field and plants in greenhouses. We also found photos of pages from scientific journals. 


In the media library, the CollAction team inventoried a large collection of botanical slides. The collection belongs to the former archive of the WUR. The collection consists of slides showing plants growing in Africa. Some of the plants on the slides are also stored in our botanical collection. We would like to scan those slides so that we have a digital image of them. We can then link this image to the plants in the collection in our collection database.

botanische slide under a magnifying glass

Big steps in
the inventory

For this inventory, quite a few meters of slide boxes were unraveled. In fact, more than 50,000 botanical slides were inventoried. Around 3,000 slides were found that show plants in our botanical collection or researchers who brought plants in our collection. 

Wooden slide box
slide boxes

saving space
with a database

These slides will soon be scanned, after which the digital images will be linked to the plants in the database. After scanning it will no longer be necessary to keep the slides in storage, this will save a lot of space.