Poster - Data

Enhancing Access to and Use of Richter's Data

Intellectual Description of the Data

by Lisa A. Mix
Curt P. Richter left behind over 50 years of research data, meticulously collected and based on observations of over 20,000 animals. The records date from 1920 to 1975 and consist mostly of logbooks, activity charts, and Esterline Angus charts documenting Richter's experiments.

Logbooks: Each logbook comprises a month of numerical data on all animals in Richter's colony. Each page contains the monthly data for a given cage number (e.g., the logbook for January 1954 starts with a page for cage AR1, giving the numerical data for the animal in that cage for that month). The data in the logbooks vary according to experiment, but generally the following are recorded in columns: weight of the animal, running wheel totals, food intake, and water intake. By looking at several months of logbook data, one can chart the activity of individual animals in specific experiments.

Activity charts: Each chart is a graphic representation of several months of data on an individual animal. The numerical data recorded in the logbooks were used to generate the activity charts. Each animal behavior is charted in a unique color (e.g., green is usually used to display water intake); the number of lines on the chart vary according to experiment, with more elaborate experiments (the cafeteria experiments, for example) displaying as many as 10 different lines. Most of the charts contain, in addition to the graphs, notes and diagrams by Richter. Thus, the activity charts present the entire picture of each experiment.

Esterline Angus charts: These charts display several months of data recording a single behavior (usually running wheel activity, but sometimes food or water intake) of an individual animal. The animals' activity cages were connected to Esterline Angus recording devices, which produced daily strip charts graphing the animals' activity. Richter's laboratory assistants sorted the strip charts according to cage and animal number and then ironed the strips onto a posterboard. (View a series of photographs showing the production of Esterline Angus charts.) The Esterline Angus charts demonstrate patterns of activity over time.

Indices to the records

Access and Use Issues

Enhancing Access to and Use of Richter's Data

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