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photo of William L. Brown, Jr.

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Unlike the literature of most other sciences, the literature of taxonomy never goes out of date.

Ant biologists, especially those conducting systematic research, must regularly refer to papers written a century or more ago, including records of species descriptions and redescriptions, taxonomic revisions, distributional records, and morphological studies with phylogenetic implications. As a result, each researcher must independently assemble a (usually photocopied) collection of thousands of primary taxonomic publications. This time-consuming task is complicated by the fact that this literature is published in a large number of frequently obscure journals.

Because the very few libraries that contain the majority of these journals are located in the U.S. and Europe, this creates a special problem for the growing number of ant researchers elsewhere in the world. This problem of access to the primary taxonomic literature has attained a new level of urgency because, as habitats are increasingly threatened and extinction rates accelerate, ant systematic and ecological research needs to be encouraged now more than ever.



The William L. Brown, Jr., Digital Library was made possible by generous grants from the Smithsonian Institution Atherton Seidell Fund (to T. Schultz, D. Agosti, and N. Johnson) and the Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee (to T. Schultz). We thank these organizations for their essential support. The source materials for this project were donated by Doris Brown and Creighton Brown, to whom we are deeply grateful.

The William L. Brown, Jr., Digital Library could never have been realized without the hard work of Jeffrey Sosa-Calvo. Others who contributed their efforts include: Faridah Dahlan, Dennis Hasch, Maureen Mello, Beth Norden, Eugenia Okonski, Ted Suman, and Rebecca Wilson. In addition to the collection of W.L. Brown, Jr., documents from many other libraries were also digitized, notably that of P.S. Ward. Most of the documents were scanned and digitized by Progressive Technology Federal Systems in Bethesda, Maryland.


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