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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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Elliott Coues Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-43487).

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Coues, Elliott (09 September 1842–25 December 1899), naturalist and historian, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the son of Samuel Elliott Coues and Charlotte Haven Ladd. His father, a prominent peace advocate, received a position in the U.S. Patent Office and moved the family to Washington, D.C., in 1854. There, under the tutelage of ...

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Haldeman, Samuel Stehman (12 August 1812–10 September 1880), naturalist and philologist, was born at Locust Grove, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Haldeman, a businessman, and Frances Stehman (her name and Samuel’s middle name are sometimes spelled Steman or Stedman). Haldeman’s Swiss ancestors had acquired considerable property in the Susquehanna Valley and had occupied positions of prestige in Pennsylvania. His grandfather John B. Haldeman had been elected to the general assembly of Pennsylvania, and his great-great-grandfather Jacob Haldeman had been a member of the colony’s Committee of Safety during the Revolution. His great-grand-uncle Sir Frederick Haldimand had served as commander in chief of the British forces in Canada....

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Hildreth, Samuel Prescott (30 September 1783–24 July 1863), physician, naturalist, and historian, was born in Methuen, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Hildreth, a physician and farmer, and Abigail Bodwell. At age fifteen he entered Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts; he spent four terms at Andover and Franklin academies. He studied medicine first under his father and then for two years under Thomas Kittredge of Andover. To complete his education, he attended an eight-week course at Harvard Medical School, after which he received a diploma from the Medical Society of Massachusetts in 1805....

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David Starr Jordan Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111666 ).

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Jordan, David Starr (19 January 1851–19 September 1931), naturalist and educator, was born in Gainesville, New York, the son of Hiram Jordan and Huldah Hawley, farmers. Jordan obtained his secondary education in the Gainesville Female Seminary (1865) and then briefly became a primary teacher (1868). A county scholarship permitted his belated entry to the initial class at Cornell University. To support himself, he became an instructor in biology in his junior year and completed sufficient work to be granted a master of science degree after less than four years of study (1872)....

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Krause, Herbert Arthur (25 May 1905–22 September 1976), novelist, English professor, poet, and naturalist, was born near Friberg, Minnesota, the son of Arthur Krause, a farmer and blacksmith, and Bertha Peters. Krause’s parents were first-generation descendants of devout German immigrants who settled as farmers in the hill country north of Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Their folkways and fundamentalist Lutheran religion were important concerns in his first two novels....

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Ord, George (04 March 1781–24 January 1866), naturalist, writer, and lexicographer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of George Ord, a retired sea captain who in 1798 became a ship chandler and rope maker, and Rebecca Lindemeyer. Educated in Philadelphia, Ord devoted himself from an early age to the study of science and literature. He entered his father’s rope-making business in 1800 and continued the business after his father’s death in 1806; he retired from the business in 1829 to devote more time to his avocational interests. In 1804 Ord married Margarette Biays, with whom he had three children, only one of whom survived infancy....

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Putnam, Frederic Ward (16 April 1839–14 August 1915), anthropologist, naturalist, and museologist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Ebenezer Putnam and Elizabeth Appleton. His early years were devoted to the study of natural history on his own, beginning with a serious interest in the study of birds. Remarkably, he became a curator of ornithology at the Essex Institute in Salem in 1856 at age seventeen. That same year Putnam entered the Lawrence Scientific Schools at Harvard University. There he was a pupil and an assistant of the eminent naturalist ...

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Ritter, William Emerson (19 November 1856–10 January 1944), naturalist, philosopher, and administrator, was born in Hampden, Wisconsin, the son of Horatio Emerson and Leonora Eason, farmers. He spent most of his boyhood on the farm, where he gained an early love of nature. Ritter attended local public schools and began teaching in Wisconsin public schools in 1877. He graduated from the State Normal School in Oshkosh, Wisconsin (1884), then served as principal of the Oconto, Wisconsin, high school (1884–1885), before continuing his education at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a B.S. (1888). At Berkeley, Ritter studied under the geologist ...

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Ernest Thompson Seton With Blackfoot Indians, starting a fire with bow and stick, 1917. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-115320).

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Seton, Ernest Thompson (14 August 1860–23 October 1946), naturalist, artist, writer, and lecturer, was born Ernest Evan Thompson in South Shields, England, the son of Joseph Logan Thompson, a businessman, and Alice Snowden. Joseph Thompson claimed famous Scottish ancestry, including a title, never legally established, deriving from the fifth earl of Winton, Lord Seton. Ernest legally adopted the surname Seton in 1901....

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Stevenson, James (24 December 1840–25 July 1888), naturalist and ethnologist, was born probably in Maysville, Kentucky. Nothing is known of his parents or his early life. On 22 April 1856 Lieutenant Gouverneur K. Warren of the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers hired him in St. Joseph, Missouri, to accompany his expedition that summer. Stevenson became assistant to the party’s geologist and naturalist, ...

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Thompson, Zadock (23 May 1796–19 January 1856), naturalist and Vermont historian, was born at Bridgewater, Vermont, the son of Barnabas Thompson and Sarah Fuller, farmers. The Thompsons eked out a subsistence from Bridgewater’s stony soil, and as a sickly youth Zadock rejected the prospect of a lifetime of farming, giving instead, as his brother Salmon put it, “early evidence that he liked to read better than to work.” He spent his late teens and early twenties studying and teaching school in eastern Vermont and western New York, but he had to return home when a severe illness kept him bedridden the first six months of 1818. Looking for other means of making a living, Thompson compiled and published four almanacs for 1819 and 1820, filling them with his self-calculated astronomical data, moral maxims drawn after Poor Richard, and “a great variety of original and selected instructive and entertaining matter” that included selections of his own turgid verse....

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Wyman, Jeffries (11 August 1814–04 September 1874), comparative anatomist, naturalist, and anthropologist, was born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, the son of Rufus Wyman, a physician, and Ann Morrill. He was named after the Boston physician James Jeffries, preceptor in medicine to Wyman’s father. Wyman’s family moved to Somerville, Massachusetts, when his father, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, was appointed physician of the McLean Asylum for the Insane. Wyman exhibited a childhood interest in dissection and sketching, two skills in which he later excelled....