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Dean, Bashford (28 October 1867–06 December 1928), zoologist and expert on ancient armor, was born in New York City, the son of William Dean, a lawyer, and Emma Frances Bashford. At the age of six Dean was fascinated by a helmet and other pieces of medieval armor at the house of a friend of his father. His interest in fishes began in childhood as well, during fishing trips with his father and then with an introduction to zoologist ...

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Fitch, Asa (24 February 1809–08 April 1879), entomologist, agriculturist, and historian, was born in Salem (Washington County), New York, the son of Asa Fitch, a physician and judge, and Abigail Martin. Fitch spent his childhood on the family farm, where he developed a fascination with natural history and a deep sense of religious conviction. He received a liberal education at academies in Salem, New York, and Bennington, Vermont, from 1822 to 1824, and in 1826 he entered the Rensselaer School (now Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), a new school for scientific education in Troy, New York. There he learned the importance of experimenting and learning by doing, and he became convinced that economic and social enrichment would result from the application of science to the common purposes of life. In 1826 he accompanied students and faculty on a scientific tour of the recently opened Erie Canal. Under the instruction of ...

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Harris, Thaddeus William (12 November 1795–16 January 1856), librarian and entomologist, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the son of Unitarian clergyman Thaddeus Mason Harris and Mary Dix. He graduated from Harvard College in 1815 and in 1820 received the M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School. During the years 1820–1831 Harris practiced medicine, first in Milton (with the older physician Amos Holbrook) and later in Dorchester, Massachusetts. In 1824 he married Catherine Holbrook, a daughter of his mentor. Of the twelve children born to the couple, two predeceased their father....

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Henry W. Henshaw Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98679).

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Henshaw, Henry Wetherbee (03 March 1850–01 August 1930), ornithologist, ethnologist, and government official, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of William Henshaw and Sarah Holden Wetherbee. His interest in natural history was demonstrated from early childhood, and he began focusing has attention on birds. He completed his primary and secondary education in the local public schools, but poor health compelled him to defer plans to take the entrance examination at Harvard in 1869. While in high school, Henshaw met ...

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Hentz, Nicholas Marcellus (25 July 1797–04 November 1856), entomologist, educator, and miniaturist, was born in Versailles, France (although he is also recorded as being a native of Metz), the son of Nicholas Hentz, a lawyer, and Marie-Anne Thèrese Daubrée. Around 1816, when Hentz was in his late teens, the Hentz family left France for the United States, allegedly for reasons connected to Hentz’s father’s political activities. Given the situation in France between 1814 and 1816—the fall and rise and fall of Napoleon, the restoration of the French monarchy—emigration was probably expedient for a number of people. Further, if the family did have a connection to Metz, which is on the Moselle River and part of Alsace-Lorraine, the Hentzes’ decision to leave their homeland could have been affected by German as well as French political fluctuations....

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Alfred C. Kinsey. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92226).

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Kinsey, Alfred Charles (23 June 1894–25 August 1956), entomologist and sex researcher, was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, the son of Alfred Seguine Kinsey, instructor of mechanical arts at Stevens Institute of Technology, and Sarah Ann Charles. His father, a domineering and relentlessly pious patriarch, intimidated Sarah and the children. Alfred was a frail boy who contracted rheumatic and typhoid fever. Perhaps as compensation for his early confinement to the home, in adolescence Alfred acquired a passionate interest in nature and resolved to become a biologist. He was valedictorian of the Columbia High School class of 1912....

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Painter, Theophilus Shickel (22 August 1889–05 October 1969), experimental zoologist and university president, was born in Salem, Virginia, the son of the Reverend Franklin Verzelius Newton Painter, a professor of modern languages at Roanoke College, Virginia, and Laura Shickel. Painter grew up in a deeply religious and scholarly household, and, because he was a sickly child, he was taught at home. He enrolled in Roanoke College in 1904 and received his B.A. in 1908. Roanoke College at that time offered little instruction in the sciences, so, being attracted to the study of chemistry, Painter took advantage of a scholarship for graduate studies at Yale University. There, Professor L. L. Woodruff provided Painter his first opportunity for using a microscope, which inspired Painter to change his graduate major to biology. He received his M.A. in 1909 and his Ph.D. in 1913. His doctoral thesis in experimental biology, a field then being pioneered by biologists like ...

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Pettingill, Olin Sewall, Jr. (30 October 1907–11 December 2001), ornithologist and educator, was born in Belgrade, Maine, the only child of Olin Sewall Pettingill, a physician, and Marion Bradbury Groves Pettingill. The boy was called Sewall within the family to distinguish him from his father, who shortly after receiving his M.D. degree in 1909 was diagnosed with tuberculosis. In the four years following his father's recovery in 1911, Sewall and his mother accompanied him as he successively held medical positions at three sanitariums, in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. In 1915, Dr. Pettingill became superintendent at the Western Maine Sanitarium in Hebron, and there the family remained for six years. Sewall was taught at home by his mother until 1916, when he was permitted to attend a school set up on the sanitarium grounds for youngsters who had been exposed to tuberculosis and were under observation. His interest in birds began in boyhood, stimulated in part by the writings of the naturalist ...