Almost every day since July 1960 someone has been watching the chimpanzees in what is now Gombe National Park in Tanzania, making careful notes of their every action from dawn to dusk.
Begun by Jane Goodall and carried forward by generations of the world’s leading primatologists, this irreplaceable collection of data from 50 years of uninterrupted study is now being curated and digitized by researchers at Duke University so that it can become even more useful to science.
Duke has established a new research center to house and manage the archive, which is owned by the Jane Goodall Institute of Arlington, Va. Anne Pusey, chair of evolutionary anthropology at the university, will run the project, which will be known as the Jane Goodall Institute Research Center.
All of these data, narratives in English and Swahili, check-sheets, hand-drawn maps, video tape and photographs, are being studied and digitized in a suite of rooms at Duke that houses more than 20 file cabinets full of documents dating back to Goodall’s first observations. The collection continues to receive new data from the study at Gombe on a regular basis in paper and digital forms.
The Gombe archive is priceless for several reasons. First and foremost, it is only by watching a long-lived species for entire lifetimes that we can see the larger patterns created by social bonds and family relationships, said Duke biologist Susan Alberts, who has been studying baboons in Kenya for nearly 30 years.
Direct to the Goodall Archive Web Site
Several online resources are available.