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Abbot, John (31 May 1751–1840), artist-naturalist, was born in London, England, the son of John Abbot, an attorney in the court of King’s Bench, Plea side, and Ann Clousinger. (Although baptismal records list his birth date as 31 May, Abbot, in his “Notes on My Life” [1834], claimed he was born on 1 June.) Little is known about Abbot’s early education. The family rented a country home near London where young John read books and studied insects in the field. His father had a collection of good paintings and encouraged his son’s interests with books and arranged for home art lessons under the engraver and drawing master Jacob Bonneau. Nevertheless, Abbot’s career was assumed to be in law, and in February 1769 he began to clerk in his father’s law office. In his free time he continued to study insects, purchase books that illustrated insects and birds, and paint pictures. In 1770 Abbot exhibited two lepidoptera watercolors at the Society of Artists of Great Britain in London. By early 1773 he had determined to go to North America to collect and paint insects. The Royal Society of London and two English naturalists, Thomas Martyn and Dru Drury, commissioned Abbot to collect natural history specimens....

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Abbott, Charles Conrad (04 June 1843–27 July 1919), naturalist and archaeologist, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Timothy Abbott, a banker, and Susan Conrad. As a child he loved nature and began a lifelong fascination with the flora and fauna of the Delaware River Valley. Like many young men drawn to natural history, he saw no prospects for turning his passion into a livelihood and so chose to study medicine....

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Adams, Charles Baker (11 January 1814–18 January 1853), naturalist and educator, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the son of Charles J. Adams, a Boston merchant, and Hannah Baker. At an early age Adams showed great interest and ability in natural history and chemistry. His parents encouraged him by setting aside a room for his rocks and fossils and the apparatus he used for chemistry experiments. He began his formal education at Boston schools and then attended Phillips Academy in Andover before entering Yale College in 1830. After a year at Yale he transferred to Amherst College, where he flourished, graduating in 1834 with highest honors. He entered the Theological Seminary at Andover with the intention of preparing for the ministry, but he left in 1836 to assist professor ...

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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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Allee, Warder Clyde (05 June 1885–18 March 1955), biologist, was born in Bloomingdale, Indiana, the son of John Wesley Allee, a farmer, and Mary Emily Newlin, a schoolteacher. A Quaker, Allee graduated from Earlham College in 1908 and took a three-year position as a high school teacher in Hammond, Indiana, while pursuing graduate studies during the summer months in the Department of Zoology at the University of Chicago. In the fall of 1909 he enrolled as a full-time graduate student at the university, where he came under the influence of pioneer animal ecologist ...

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Frank M. Andrews. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-94369).

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Andrews, Frank Maxwell (03 February 1884–03 May 1943), army officer and airman, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of James David Andrews, a newspaper reporter, and Louise Adeline Maxwell. He graduated from the Montgomery Bell Academy in 1901 and the following year gained admittance to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Graduating in 1906, Andrews was commissioned a second lieutenant in the cavalry. He spent the next eleven years drawing routine assignments in the American West, Hawaii, and the Philippines. In 1914 he married Jeanette Allen, the daughter of Major General ...

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Anfinsen, Christian B. (26 March 1916–14 May 1995), biochemist and Nobel laureate, was born Christian Boehmer Anfinsen, Jr., in Monessen, Pennsylvania, the son of Christian Boehmer Anfinsen, a mechanical engineer, and Sophie Rasmussen Anfinsen. Both parents were from Bergen, Norway, and taught Christian Jr. Norwegian customs and language. The family lived in Charleroi, a small town near Pittsburgh, until the 1920s when they moved to Philadelphia....

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Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92806).

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Arnold, Henry Harley (25 June 1886–15 January 1950), airman, was born in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, the son of Herbert Alonzo Arnold, a physician, and Anna Louise Harley. Arnold received a public education and in 1903 entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. A mediocre student, he graduated in the middle of his class in 1907 and was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry. He served four years with the Twenty-ninth Regiment in the Philippines and New York before volunteering for flight training with the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps. In April 1911 Arnold reported to Dayton, Ohio, and received instruction from the Wright brothers. Two months later he joined the army’s first cadre of military aviators. Arnold subsequently transferred to College Park, Maryland, as a flight instructor and on 1 June 1912 established a world altitude record of 6,540 feet. This act garnered him the first-ever Mackay trophy....

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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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Babcock, Ernest Brown (10 July 1877–08 December 1954), geneticist, was born in Edgerton, Wisconsin, the son of Emilius Welcome Babcock and Mary Eliza Brown. He developed an early interest in botany by working in his mother’s conservatory and his own flower garden. He attended Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin, for one year (1895) and while there became intrigued by the wild plants that flourished along the banks of the Fox River. When his parents moved to California after his freshman year, he accompanied them and attended the state normal school in Los Angeles for two years. In 1898 he took a teaching position in a grammar school in order to earn enough money to complete his education and in 1901 matriculated at the University of California’s College of Agriculture with the intention of becoming a plant breeder. Unfortunately, the school offered no such course of study, and so he supplemented the standard agriculture curriculum with as many botany courses as he could take. A series of lectures presented by the visiting Hugo De Vries, the principal promoter of Gregor Mendel’s work with plant heredity, piqued his interest in the evolution of plants. He received a B.S. in 1906....

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Bachman, John (04 February 1790–24 February 1874), clergyman and naturalist, was born in Rhinebeck, New York, the son of Jacob Bachman, a farmer, and Eva (surname unknown but probably Shop). During his boyhood on a farm in Rensselaer County, New York, Bachman developed a keen interest in natural history and read many books on the subject. Around 1803, after tutoring by the local Lutheran minister, Anton T. Braun, Bachman entered college, evidently somewhere in Philadelphia, but a severe attack of tuberculosis compelled him to leave before he earned a degree. While recuperating, Bachman decided to enter the Lutheran ministry, and by 1810, after briefly studying theology with Braun and then with another minister in the local area, he had returned to Philadelphia for advanced training. During that time he also taught school. Upon the death of Braun in 1813, Bachman assumed his former mentor’s pastorate. Soon troubled again by tuberculosis, he decided to move to a warmer climate and accepted a call from St. John’s Lutheran Church, in Charleston, South Carolina, where he assumed his duties early in 1815....

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Bailey, Jacob Whitman (29 April 1811–27 February 1857), naturalist and educator, was born in Ward (now Auburn), Massachusetts, the son of Rev. Isaac Bailey and Jane Whitman. From an early age Bailey was an avid collector and classifier of natural history specimens. Because his family was of modest means, Bailey’s formal schooling ended at age twelve, but employment with a bookseller and circulating library in Providence, Rhode Island, permitted him to continue studies on his own. His scholarly habits earned him the patronage of John Kingsbury, secretary of Brown University, with whom he studied Latin. By 1828 he was able to enter West Point, graduating fifth in his class in 1832 and receiving a commission as second lieutenant of artillery in 1833....

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Banister, John (1650– May 1692), clergyman and naturalist, was born at Twigworth in Gloucestershire, England, the son of John Bannister, a commoner, occupation unknown; his mother’s name is also unknown. He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he received his B.A. in 1671 and M.A. in 1674. He stayed on at Magdalen as a clerk and then chaplain until 1678. At Oxford, Banister trained for the clergy and studied natural history, compiling the “Herbarium siccum Jo. Banister,” an unpublished herbal with 374 folios of pressed specimens from Oxfordshire, parts of which appeared in Robert Plot’s ...

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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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Bartelmez, George William (23 March 1885–02 September 1967), biologist, was born in New York City, the son of Theodore Bartelmez, a lumber company manager, and Caroline Osten. He received a B.S. from New York University in 1906, then remained an additional year to work as an assistant in zoology in order to earn enough money to continue his education. In 1907 he was awarded a fellowship in zoology at the University of Chicago, from which he received a Ph.D. in embryology in 1910....

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Bartram, William (09 April 1739–22 July 1823), naturalist, artist, and explorer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Bartram, a naturalist, and Ann Mendenhall. Unlike his father, who was essentially self-taught, William Bartram benefited from a rigorous formal education at the Philadelphia Academy, where he studied history, Latin, French, and the classics. From an early age, however, his overriding interest was in nature. He spent much of his time as a young man traveling with his father to collect and draw plants and other specimens for John Bartram’s overseas patrons and scientific correspondents....

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Bates, Marston (23 July 1906–03 April 1974), naturalist and educator, was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the son of Glen F. Bates, a farmer and horticulturist, and Amy Mabel Button. In 1916 his father moved the family to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where young Bates was reared. An only child in a rather isolated environment, he developed an interest in insects (he collected butterflies) and an ambition to visit the tropics. He earned a B.S. in biology at the University of Florida in 1927....