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Forbes, Stephen Alfred (29 May 1844–13 March 1930), ecologist, state entomologist of Illinois, and chief of the Illinois Natural History Survey, was born in a log cabin in Silver Creek, Illinois, the son of Isaac Forbes, a farmer, and Agnes Van Hoesen. While enduring economic hardships common to pioneer families on the prairies, the Forbes family suffered further misfortune when Stephen was ten. With his mother already in poor health, Stephen’s father died, forcing older brother Henry to assume responsibility for the farm and the rearing of Stephen and his younger sister, Nettie. Stephen attended the district school until he was fourteen, studied under Henry’s instruction for two years, and briefly attended a college preparatory school until the family ran out of financial resources....

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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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Jackson, Hartley Harrad Thompson (19 May 1881–20 September 1976), mammalogist and government official, was born in Milton, Wisconsin, the son of Harrad Jackson and Mary Thompson, English immigrants who settled in that state, and the only one of their eight children who was born in the United States. Educated in the local schools, he developed an interest in birds and later in mammals, the latter of which would become the focus of his lifelong research. He soon began a personal collection of study skins. At the age of fourteen he met Ludwig Kumlien, a prominent Wisconsin naturalist and Arctic explorer, who gave Jackson useful guidance in his natural history pursuits. His first article, on screech owls, was published in ...

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C. Hart Merriam Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98680).

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Merriam, Clinton Hart (05 December 1855–19 March 1942), zoologist and government official, was born in New York City, the son of Clinton Levi Merriam, a businessman, banker, and two-term Republican U.S. congressman, and Caroline Hart. A younger sister, Florence ( Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey...

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Morris, John Gottlieb (14 November 1803–10 October 1895), Lutheran pastor, entomologist, and Baltimore cultural leader, was born in York, Pennsylvania, the son of John Samuel Gottlieb Morris, a physician, and Barbara Myers. Raised in a pious middle-class household, Gottlieb, following his father’s death in 1808, lived much of his life in unusually close relationship to his mother and his brother, Charles. After studying at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) and graduating from Dickinson College in 1823, he studied theology at Princeton Seminary and at the infant Gettysburg Seminary. He married Eliza Hay in 1827; they had three children....

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Osten Sacken, Carl Robert Romanovich von der (21 August 1828–20 May 1906), entomologist and diplomat, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia; his parents’ names are unknown. A member of the Russian nobility, he received some education in St. Petersburg. His serious interest in insects began at age eleven, when another young nobleman introduced him to the subject while Osten Sacken was visiting Baden Baden with his family. In 1849 he joined the Russian diplomatic corps, and prior to receiving an American posting, Osten Sacken published several papers on insects, one of them an account of the species to be found in the suburbs of St. Petersburg. In 1856 he traveled to Washington, D.C., where he took up his duties as secretary to the Russian legation. During the two-month trip, he stopped to visit some of Europe’s leading entomologists, including ...

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Stiles, Charles Wardell (15 May 1867–24 January 1941), zoologist and public health official, was born in Spring Valley, New York, the son of Samuel Martin Stiles, a Methodist minister, and Elizabeth White. Raised in an atmosphere of religious severity, Stiles was torn between his father’s drive for him to become a minister and his own desire to become a scientist. To satisfy his family’s observance of the Sabbath, Stiles turned his religious studies into a game by mastering reading the Bible in French, German, Italian, and Greek, an exercise that greatly expanded his linguistic abilities. After finishing high school in Hartford, Connecticut, Stiles gave in to family pressures and enrolled at Wesleyan College in Middletown, Connecticut. Since Stiles had no intention of giving in to his father’s desires for him to become a minister, he led a carousing and revolutionary life that tested the bounds of Wesleyan discipline. Stiles’s strife to obtain high marks, the tension with his father, and the recurrence of debilitating headaches culminated in a case of neurasthenia, which caused him to abruptly leave college. Stiles’s neurasthenia and headaches dramatically improved after he was fitted with glasses and his father surrendered to his son’s desire to become a scientist....