let’s source the crowds

While it may seem like a contemporary term, many museums, including the Smithsonian, have been using crowdsourcing as a strategy for years.  At the Smithsonian, we’ve been at it since 1849, when the first Secretary, Joseph Henry, used 150 weather observers all over the U.S. to contribute data, an activity that led to the formation of the National Weather Service.

The Smithsonian still sources the power of our audiences today on topics ranging from tree leaves and gardens to immigration and stories from rural America.  We’d love to hear from you!  Please contribute your voice, or let your visitors know, about the projects below.  Do you have a crowdsourcing initiative you’d like to share?  Let us know in the comments.

SI Transcription Center– Crowdsourcing transcriptions of primary source documents https://transcription.si.edu/

Leafsnap – Crowdsourcing tree images for mobile app https://leafsnap.com/


crowdsourced image of kohlrabi growing in the garden of The Works, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Newark, Ohio.

Encyclopedia of Life – Crowdsourcing species-related media https://eol.org/info/contribute

Our American Journey (National Museum of American History) – Crowdsourcing oral histories of American experience of migration and immigration  https://my.si.edu/oaj/story

Community of Gardens (Smithsonian Gardens)- Learn from the ways that gardens and gardeners of all backgrounds have shaped America’s landscape.  https://communityofgardens.si.edu/

Agriculture Innovation and Heritage Archive (National Museum of American History) – Think about how transformations in American agriculture have affected you, your family, your community, and the environment.    https://americanhistory.si.edu/agheritage/how-to-participate

Stories from Main Street  (Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service)– Crowdsourcing stories about rural America  – https://www.storiesfrommainstreet.org/

Ask Smithsonian (Smithsonian Magazine) – Try to stump us with a question about anything.  Really, anything.  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/ask-smithsonian/ask-form/?no-ist

Will to Adorn (Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage) – Listen to and contribute your stories about the choices you make everyday when you dress for school, work, fun, or special occasions. https://www.festival.si.edu/2013/Will_to_Adorn/GetTheApp/

eMammal (National Museum of Natural History) – Work with researchers to document mammals using camera traps. https://emammal.wordpress.com/about/

Finally, here’s a look at some spectacular online exhibitions created by crowdsourcing:

from the crowdsourced exhibition, A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America

from the crowdsourced exhibition, A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America

A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America (Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center) – The first crowdsourced gallery of the Asian Pacific American experience around the world as lived on one day.  https://smithsonianapa.org/life2014/

My Space Shuttle Memories (National Air and Space Museum) Did you ever see a space shuttle launch or land in person?   https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/moving-beyond-earth/memories.cfm

Portraits of Planet Ocean (National Museum of Natural History) – Stunning photo gallery of the world’s magnificent oceans by oceanographers and enthusiasts.   https://www.flickr.com/groups/portraitsofplanetocean/



1 reply
  1. Elizabeth Bugbee
    Elizabeth Bugbee says:

    We received a great email from James Bryant, Curator of Natural History, Museum Department, City of Riverside in California about a fun project they are working on. Here’s what he had to share, “It has been about a year since the release of Riverside’s NatureSpotter smartphone application (now available for both iPhone and Android operating systems) and the inauguration of the Riverside Citizen Science program’s projects at https://www.iNaturalist.org . Over that time, we’ve discovered an exciting diversity of life forms in the City, the region and in the various locations where our NatureSpotters like to be active. And we’ve learned a good deal more about how much our project participants enjoy observing nature and sharing their findings, questions and thoughts about the natural world around them. With the support of the Innovation and Technology Department at the City of Riverside and the brilliant sharing tools developed for iNaturalist, we appear to be making a significant contribution to the growth of a worldwide community of naturalists and the knowledge of our planet’s biodiversity.”

    “In all, we’ve received roughly 200 submissions from 117 NatureSpotter app users, as well as project contributions from users of the iNaturalist smartphone apps. Our flagship iNaturalist project, Riverside Citizen Science (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/riverside-citizen-science ) now has 310 records, documenting 116 categories of plants and animals, with 31 people following the project through their own iNaturalist accounts. Our newest project, Seeking All Southern California Stinkbugs, launched in late Spring of 2014 (see https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/seeking-all-southern-california-stinkbugs ), and now has 65 records of 5 different stinkbug taxa, and 28 iNaturalist users are following the project via their own accounts.”

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