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Akeley, Carl Ethan (19 May 1864–17 November 1926), taxidermist, naturalist, and inventor, was born near Clarendon, New York, the son of Daniel Webster Akeley and Julia Glidden, farmers. In his early teens he taught himself taxidermy. After two years at the State Normal School in Brockport, New York, he began work at the age of nineteen for Ward’s Natural Science Establishment in Rochester, a company that prepared laboratory and museum specimens. One of Akeley’s jobs was to skin and mount for exhibition ...

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Joel Allen Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102410).

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Allen, Joel Asaph (19 July 1838–29 August 1921), zoologist and museum official, was born near Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Joel Allen, a carpenter, housebuilder, and later a farmer, and Harriet Trumbull, a former schoolteacher. Allen attended the local public schools in the wintertime, but his father, a rigidly puritanical Congregationalist, insisted that he work on the family farm during good weather. From the age of about fourteen, as Allen’s interest in natural history, particularly birds, increased, his interest in farming diminished. He nevertheless worked long hours for his father in a spirit of filial loyalty, possibly laying the foundation for the serious bouts of ill health that would plague him in later years. Whenever possible, he prepared study specimens of birds and animals for his own private collection. From 1858 to 1862 Allen’s father supported his intermittent attendance at nearby Wilbraham Academy....

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Ames, Blanche Ames (18 February 1878–01 March 1969), artist and women's rights activist, artist and women’s rights activist, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, the daughter of Adelbert Ames, a Civil War general and governor of Mississippi during Reconstruction, and Blanche Butler, whose father was a general and governor of Massachusetts. The younger Blanche graduated from Smith College in 1899 with diplomas from both the College and the School of Art....

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Anthony, Harold Elmer (05 April 1890–29 March 1970), mammalogist, museum curator, and author, was born in Beaverton, Oregon, the son of Alfred Webster Anthony and Anabel Klink. His father, a mining engineer and amateur ornithologist and collector, encouraged the boy’s interests in natural history. Anthony was an avid hunter, as were other lads in his community, but he early evinced an interest in preserving small mammal and bird skins for further study. Educated in the local public schools of Portland, Oregon, Anthony attended Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, for one year (1910–1911)....

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Audubon, John James (26 April 1785–27 January 1851), naturalist and artist, was born Jean Rabin Fougère in Les Cayes, Santo Domingo, the son of Captain Jean Audubon, a French sea captain, planter, and slave dealer, and Jeanne Rabin (or Rabine), a young Frenchwoman employed as a chambermaid on the island. The traditional view, that Mlle Rabin was a Creole woman native to Santo Domingo, has been disproved. Audubon’s mother died before he was seven months old, and the child was cared for by another mistress of the father’s with whom he had several children. In 1791, fearing worsening conditions in Santo Domingo, Captain Audubon arranged for his son and a younger daughter by his mistress Catherine “Sanitte” Bouffard to be taken to France. There both were well cared for by Captain Audubon’s legal spouse, Anne Moynet Audubon, who had no children of her own. Both children were formally adopted by the couple in 1794, as was required if they were legally to inherit Captain Audubon’s name and property, and were baptized in 1800. At this time the boy received the name Jean-Jacques Fougère Audubon....

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John James Audubon. Lithograph in Gallery of Illustrious Americans, 1850. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-28111).

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Barbour, Thomas (19 August 1884–08 January 1946), naturalist and museum director, was born on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, the son of William Barbour and Julia Adelaide Sprague. The Barbours lived in New York City, but William Barbour, an international businessman dealing primarily in linen thread manufacture, often traveled, sometimes accompanied by his family. Thus, by the time he was eight, Thomas Barbour had visited various natural history museums in Europe. Also in his youth he began to collect reptiles and amphibians, both in the Adirondack Mountains during the summers and one winter at his grandmother’s house in Florida. In New York Barbour spent a lot of time at the Bronx Park Zoo as it was being developed in the late 1890s; there he begged zoo officials to let him have deceased reptiles for his collection. After a visit to the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University when he was fifteen, Barbour decided that he would someday become director of that facility....

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Borden, Gail (09 November 1801–11 January 1874), surveyor and inventor, was born in Norwich, New York, the son of Gail Borden, a pioneer and landowner, and Philadelphia Wheeler. The Bordens moved at least twice in the early 1800s, first to Kennedy’s Ferry, Kentucky, which became Covington soon after their arrival, and then to New London, Indiana, in 1816, where Borden learned surveying. Borden attended school in Indiana during 1816 and 1817....

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Brattle, Thomas (20 June 1658–18 May 1713), astronomer and architect, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Brattle, a merchant, and Elizabeth Tyng. The oldest son in one of Boston’s wealthiest families, Thomas early devoted himself to mathematics and science. Harvard College, where he earned an A.B. in 1676, was in disarray because of war and bad leadership during his undergraduate years, so Brattle pursued higher education largely on his own. He wrote to Britain’s royal astronomer, John Flamsteed, in 1703 and 1705 that no one was able to teach him much mathematics at Harvard, and he had relied on whatever books were available. Young Brattle also worked with and learned from scientifically inclined locals, such as the printer-mathematician John Foster and Dr. William Avery....

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Bulova, Arde (24 October 1889–19 March 1958), businessman, was born in New York City, the son of Joseph Bulova and Bertha Eisner. His father emigrated to New York from Bohemia and in 1873 started a small jewelry manufacturing business that eventually became the Bulova Watch Company. Bulova attended school in New York and in 1905 began working as a salesman for his father’s company. The family business prospered and in 1911 was incorporated, with the father as president and the son as vice president and treasurer. The firm was reincorporated in 1923 as the Bulova Watch Company, Inc. Bulova became chairman of the board in 1930, a position he held until his death in 1958....

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Terry S. Reynolds and Barry C. James

Burt, William Austin (13 June 1792–18 August 1858), surveyor and inventor, was born in Petersham, Massachusetts, the son of Alvin Burt and Wealthy Austin, farmers. In 1802 Burt’s father, in financial difficulties, moved his family to Freehold, New York, and a year later to Broadalbin, New York. In 1810 the family moved again, this time to Wales Center, near Buffalo, New York. Because his labor was needed on the family’s farm, Burt’s formal education effectively ended at the age of nine, save for three-week stints at the ages of fourteen and sixteen. Burt, however, avidly pursued self-education, largely teaching himself the principles of astronomy, mathematics, and navigation and inventing a shorthand system for his own use. He also developed an aptitude for mechanics. By the age of twenty he was surveying lands in western New York and erecting flour and saw mills....

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Frank M. Chapman. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102412).

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Chapman, Frank Michler (12 June 1864–15 November 1945), ornithologist and museum curator, was born in Englewood Township, New Jersey, the son of Lebbeus Chapman, Jr., a partner in a New York City law firm, and Mary Augusta Parkhurst. His father died when his son was eleven. In addition to possessing a strong ornithological interest from the age of eight, Chapman inherited a musical ear from his mother, and his daughter-in-law, ...

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Clark, Alvan (08 March 1804–19 August 1887), artist and telescope maker, was born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, the son of Alvan Clark and Mary Bassett, farmers. He attended a local grammar school and worked briefly for a wagonmaker. In 1826 Clark married Maria Pease, and the couple had four children. Clark spent the next decade engraving cylinders used to print textiles, before opening a portrait studio in Boston in 1836....

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Coolidge, Dane (24 March 1873–08 August 1940), novelist, naturalist, and photographer, was born in Natick, Massachusetts, the son of Francis Coolidge, a corporal in the Civil War and, later, an orange grower in California, and Sophia Upham Whittemore. He moved with his family in 1877 to Los Angeles, where he roamed the fields and mountains around that still-small town and grew up a Republican and a Unitarian. Coolidge graduated from Stanford University in 1898, then studied biology at Harvard University from 1898 to 1899 before returning to the West....

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Davidson, George (09 May 1825–02 December 1911), surveyor, geodesist, and astronomer, was born in Nottingham, England, the son of Thomas Davidson, and Janet Drummond. His family emigrated to Philadelphia when he was seven, and he attended its public schools. At Central High School, ...

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See Mason, Charles

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Draper, John William (05 May 1811–04 January 1882), scientist, educator, and historian, was born near Liverpool, England, the son of John Christopher Draper, an itinerant Wesleyan minister, and Sarah Ripley. Draper attended a Methodist grammar school and completed his premedical studies at University College, London, immersing himself in the philosophies of Benthamism and positivism, to which he would return later in life....

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Harold E. Edgerton Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103829).