For the past two decades, scholars in archival science have begun to question traditional assumptions about the nature of the record. Drawing on theories from fields such as sociology, organization theory, and science studies, and on their own ethnographic studies, they propose more inclusive definitions and widening the contexts of analysis of record making and recordkeeping. This paper continues this critical consideration of the concept of record by examining the nature of nonprototypical records in the scientific world. The paper focuses on the system of specimens and field notes established by biologist Joseph Grinnell at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (University of California, Berkeley) as a means of examining several aspects of the nature of the scientific record: materiality, representation, and the triad evidence/memory/accountability. Focusing on the creation and management of these scientific records, the paper argues that further analyses of scientific record making and recordkeeping are bound to benefit both scientific work, which depends more and more on databases and archives, as well as archival science, which is becoming more relevant beyond its traditional realm of the legal/business/administrative world.

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