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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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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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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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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....

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Beard, James Carter (06 June 1837–15 November 1913), artist, author, and naturalist, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of James Henry Beard, a portrait, genre, and animal painter, and Mary Caroline Carter. He spent his childhood there and in nearby Covington, Kentucky, then attended Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, during the mid-1850s. Later he read law in Cincinnati under ...

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Beebe, William (29 July 1877–04 June 1962), naturalist, oceanographer, and zoological society executive, was born Charles William Beebe in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Charles Beebe, the owner of a paper company, and Henrietta Marie Younglove. In the late 1880s the family moved to the first of a succession of addresses in East Orange, New Jersey. Beebe, an active boy, early developed an interest in natural history, fostered in part by family travels to New England and eastern Canada. He learned to identify many kinds of wildlife, particularly birds. Young Charles (he dropped his first name in high school and was known ever after as William) entered East Orange High School in 1891 and spent five years there, taking, in addition to the regular course, six additional semester-long classes in the sciences. Once Beebe had determined on a career in natural history, his mother, a woman very ambitious for her son, made a point of seeing to it that he met most of the major natural scientists in New York City. Beebe attended Columbia University for several years (1896–1899), completing a series of courses in biology, zoology, and related subjects, but he did not receive a degree. Beebe later received two honorary doctorates of science, one from Tufts College, the other from Colgate University, both in 1928....

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Charles Bendire. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-94579).

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Bendire, Charles Emil (27 April 1836–04 February 1897), naturalist and soldier, was born Karl Emil Bender at König im Odenwald in Hesse-Darmstadt (now in Germany). The identities of his parents are not known. At age twelve he began his studies at a theological seminary in Passy, France. Misconduct led to his departure five years later. In 1853 he immigrated to the United States and anglicized his name to Charles Bendire. The following year he joined the First Dragoons in the U.S. Army. During his second enlistment, which began in 1860, he became a sergeant and later hospital steward in the Fourth Cavalry....

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Boll, Jacob (29 May 1828–29 September 1880), naturalist and geologist, was born at Dieticon, Bremgarten, Canton Aargau, Switzerland, the son of Henry Boll and Magdalena Peier. The family was moderately wealthy, so Jacob was able to attend a Gymnasium, where he soon developed a passion for natural history. Apparently while enrolled there he met ...

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Brugger, Kenneth C. (16 June 1918–25 November 1998), textile engineer and monarch butterfly researcher, was born Kenneth Charles Brugger in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the son of Oswald Brugger, an auto parts salesman and farmer, and Carrie Linderman Brugger. Following high school, he attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Brugger served in the Army Signal Corps during World War II and was assigned to work on cryptology at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. He married Mary K. Frye in 1942; the couple had three children....

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Burden, William Douglas (24 September 1898–14 November 1978), naturalist and explorer, was born in Troy, New York, the son of James Abercrombie Burden, an iron manufacturer, and Florence Adele Sloane. Burden received his A.B. in 1922 from Harvard College. He received his M.A. (in geology) in 1926 from Columbia University. After graduating from Harvard he traveled in the Orient studying oriental civilizations and collecting specimens of local fauna for the American Museum of Natural History....

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John Burroughs Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99738).