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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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Kennicott, Robert (13 November 1835–13 May 1866), naturalist and explorer, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of John Albert Kennicott and Mary Shutts Ransom. The second of seven children, Kennicott was raised in a beautiful prairie grove eighteen miles northwest of Chicago. His father, a physician and educator as well as an enthusiastic amateur botanist, had moved the family to West Northfield (now Glenview), Illinois, in 1836. The Kennicott estate, known simply as “The Grove,” was the perfect setting for a would-be naturalist, encompassing as it did a variety of rich and varied ecosystems. Robert was frail and often in ill health as a youth and as a consequence never attended school regularly. John Kennicott arranged for an Oxford-trained tutor to supplement his children’s education, but he was their most important teacher. He encouraged frail Robert in particular to spend time outdoors studying nature, and by age fifteen Kennicott was experimenting with the effects of massasauga rattlesnake venom on a variety of animals. In addition to quite a menagerie of live animals, Kennicott had also begun to make collections of bird skins, eggs, insects, and snakes. In 1853 his father arranged for him to study with the leading naturalist of the Midwest, ...

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Orton, James (21 April 1830–25 September 1877), naturalist, explorer, and educator, was born in Seneca Falls, New York, the son of Azariah Giles Orton, a theologian and scholar, and Minerva Squire. His father earned a meager salary as a country parson, and his family had few material advantages, but young Orton received much intellectual stimulation and support at home. He exhibited a keen interest in science, particularly natural history and mineralogy. While still in his teens he began to write about the things he observed on the numerous field trips he took near his rural home. After attending a boarding school in Oxford, New York, he went to Williston Seminary because his family felt he should prepare for the ministry. Maintaining his interest in the natural sciences, however, he wrote and published ...

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Romans, Bernard (fl. 1720–1780), cartographer and naturalist, was born in Holland. Nothing is known about his parents or early childhood. He traveled to England in his youth and studied botany, mathematics, and engineering. Romans came to the United States around 1757, serving as a junior surveyor for the British government....

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Say, Thomas (27 June 1787–10 October 1834), naturalist and explorer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Benjamin Say, a physician, and Ann Bonsall, granddaughter of the botanist John Bartram. Say’s great-uncle, William Bartram, and Bartram’s friend and neighbor, the ornithologist Alexander Wilson...