This essay describes the approach and early results of the collaborative Embryo Project and its on-line encyclopedia (http://embryo.asu.edu). The project is based on a relational database that allows federated searches and inclusion of multiple types of objects targeted for multiple user groups. The emphasis is on the history and varied contexts of developmental biology, focusing on people, places, institutions, techniques, literature, images, and other aspects of study of embryos. This essay introduces the ways of working as well as the long-term goals of the project. We invite others to join the effort, both in this particular project and in joining together in digital collection, archiving, and knowledge generation at the borders of biology and history.