July 3, 2000|
VOL. 29, NO. 40
'Animal, Vegetable and Mineral': Natural History
Manuscripts at Peabody Library
The books and works of 10 of history's great naturalists are
on display through July 20 at the George Peabody Library. Dating
to the 1600s, the manuscripts are among the treasures of the
natural history collections in the university's Sheridan
Libraries. To accompany the exhibit, titled Animal, Vegetable and
Mineral, an online presentation is available on the Web at
Robert Hooke (1655-1703) was a restless researcher who
moved from one project to another; the illustrations of leaves,
stones and insects in his Micrographia came from his
study of life under the microscope. Abraham Trembley (1710-1784)
became aware of hydra almost by accident, then concentrated on
studying them in great detail. Carl von Linne, or Linnaeus,
(1707-1778) had the same need for organization and applied it to
creating a classification system of all three kingdoms of nature.
Hooke, Trembley and the horticulturist William Curtis (1746-
1799) made their careers close to home, studying things that
others considered ordinary or did not notice, while Maria Sibylla
Merian (1647-1717), Mark Catesby (ca.1679-1749) and Alexander von
Humboldt (1769-1859) traveled afar to study plants, animals and
geology unknown in Europe.
John Gould (1804-1881) was a taxidermist for the Zoological
Society of London who taught himself to be an ornithologist.
Charles Lucien Bonaparte (1803-1857) had a university education
before becoming an outstanding zoologist.
Merian, Catesby and Audubon (1785-1851) were artists, but
the other naturalists depended on others to illustrate their
books. Among the works are engravings, hand-colored in the
earliest books, and lithographs by Audubon and Gould. To protect
the works from the light levels in the Peabody Library, pages
will be turned periodically during the run of the exhibit.