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Castiglioni, Luigi (03 October 1757–22 April 1832), naturalist, author, and politician, was born in Milan, Italy, the son of Count Ottavio Castiglioni and Teresa Verri, both of distinguished families. In childhood, after the death of his father, Castiglioni and his older brother, Alfonso, were adopted by their mother’s brother, Pietro Verri, whose political ideas and writings placed him and his brother, Alessandro, among the central figures of the Italian Enlightenment. Although Verri provided his nephews with material comfort and intellectual guidance, their relationship was sometimes contentious....

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Cadwallader Colden. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B04876).

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Colden, Cadwallader (07 February 1689–20 September 1776), physician, natural scientist, and lieutenant governor of New York, was born of Scottish parents in Ireland, where his mother (name unknown) was visiting. His father was the Reverend Alexander Colden of Duns, Scotland. Colden graduated in 1705 from the University of Edinburgh. He then studied medicine in London but, lacking the money to establish a medical practice in Great Britain, migrated to Philadelphia in 1710. Welcomed by his mother’s sister Elizabeth Hill, Colden established himself as a merchant and physician. He returned to Scotland briefly in 1715, where in November of that year he married Alice Chrystie of Kelso, Scotland. After their marriage they returned to Philadelphia; the couple had eleven children. During a 1717 visit to New York, Colden was persuaded by Governor ...

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Nelson, Edward William (08 May 1855–19 May 1934), naturalist and government official, was born in Amoskeag, New Hampshire, the son of William Nelson, a butcher, and Nancy Martha Wells. Nelson’s father enlisted in the Union army and was killed near the end of the Civil War. Nelson lived with his maternal grandparents in upstate New York while his mother served as an army nurse in Baltimore. For several years the Nelson brothers worked on their grandfather’s farm while Edward began learning something of the natural history of the area. Following the war, Nelson’s mother became a dressmaker in Chicago. Her sons attended the local public schools, and Edward began collecting bird and insect specimens. His mother lost all of her possessions in the Chicago Fire of April 1871, but she found temporary housing and gradually rebuilt her business....