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Environmental Humanities

The Ransom Center collections contain manuscripts, books, artworks, photographs, and ephemera that document the complex relationship between nature and culture. Encompassing early modern sporting guides, first editions of pivotal scientific texts, manuscript collections of contemporary environmentalist writers, and much more, these materials reflect some of the most influential shifts in the way human communities have understood themselves in relation to the nonhuman world. The sample teaching collections below approach this relationship through several lenses, tracking representations of nature in the arts, the sciences, religion, and politics. These collections may be relevant to courses in environmental studies, natural sciences, religious studies, history, literature, sociology, and public policy.

  • Animal Studies

    Encompassing early veterinary manuals, children's books, advertisements, propaganda, photographs, works of natural history, and more, this collection explores representations of non-human lives in service of a wide range of aesthetic, economic, and political purposes. Animals have long been seen as a mirror for human society, establishing the boundaries that define the category of humanity itself. The materials in this collection trace the history of these representations, offering a corresponding look at the political assumptions guiding their creation.

    Item List


    Book of Hours, use of Rome. By Catholic Church. French. 15th Century.

    HRC 2 Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection

    Medieval devotional text decorated with thirteen full-page miniatures, one half-page miniature, and 144 bas de page vignettes, the majority depicting animals. Original manuscript, with illustrations added in the nineteenth century.


    The noble arte of venerie or hvnting. By George Turberville. 1575.

    Wg T841 575b WRE

    A sixteenth-century hunting treatise, collected from various sources and translated from the French, on "the vertues, nature, and properties of [fifteen] sundrie chaces togither, with the order and maner how to hunte and kill euery one of them." Includes a verse translation of "The wofull words of the Hart to the Hunter," in which the Hart appeals directly to the hunter, and the book's author, not to share his knowledge with others. This volume is bound with Turbeville's separate treatise on hawking and falconry.


    Cheape and good husbandry for the well-ordering of all beasts, and fowles, and for the generall cure of their diseases. By Gervase Markham. 1623.

    S 509 M33 1623

    A sixteenth-century guide to animal husbandry, veterinary care, and agriculture by Gervase Markham, author of Markham's Maister-Piece (1610), one of the most influential books of equestrian medicine ever printed in English. See also Markham's master-piece revived… (SF 955 M374 1695 DOBIE).


    A Dialogue, or, rather a parley betweene Prince Ruperts dogge whose name is Puddle, and Tobies dog whose name is Pepper... Attributed to John Taylor. 1643.

    Wh A100 643d WRE

    A fictional account of two dogs, both on opposite sides of the English Civil War, trading classic Jacobean insults and defending their owners' honor.


    The fables of AEsop paraphras'd in verse: adorn'd with sculpture and illustrated with annotations. By John Ogilby. 1665.

    Aj Og45 +665a

    A seventeenth-century verse adaptation of Aesop's fables, with illustrations. Of particular interest is a verse translation of Fable XLV, entitled "Of the Hart and Horse."


    Circus Collection. Series I. American Circuses; Performers; Animal acts

    Box 5 Performing Arts Circus Collection

    The Performing Arts Circus Collection contains newspaper clippings, photographs, posters, programs, and musical scores related to individual circuses, acts, and performers dating from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. The materials in this particular box cover a range of animal acts, which were often billed as major attractions.


    WWI Posters/Texas War Records War Poster collection. "Even a dog enlists, why not you?" By Mildred T. Moody, artist. Circa 1914 - 1918.

    85.140.1219 WWI Posters/Texas War Records War Poster collection

    WWI recruitment poster showing a dog wearing a harness with a red cross; behind a town burns. Over 10,000 trained dogs were employed by the Red Cross during the first World War as medical scouts and first responders. Since barking might give away a wounded soldier's position, the dogs were trained to take a piece of cloth from the soldier's uniform back to the handler, who would then follow the dog back to the patient.


    Blunden, Edmund. 1917 Diary; entry dated May 4, 1917 regarding messenger pigeons.

    Series: Works Edmund Blunden Papers. See card catalog.

    The Edmund Blunden papers include correspondence, drafts, maps, and personal writing related to the poet's experience in the trenches during the first World War. This field diary entry details the use and care of messenger pigeons, who were employed during the war to carry messages beyond the reach of enemy fire, barbed wire, and toxic nerve gas.


    Lawrence, D. H. Manuscript draft for Birds, Beasts and Flowers.

    Box 2.2 D. H. Lawrence Collection

    D. H. Lawrence's first collection of poems, published in 1923, reflects on the natural world through the extreme "otherness" of animal and vegetable perspectives. Poems are given titles based on their subjects, which include pomegranates, snakes, almond trees and mosquitoes, to name a few.


    Reptiles and amphibians, their habits and adaptations. By Thomas Barbour. 1926.

    QL 641 B25

    From the personal library of Jazz-era socialites Harry and Caresse Crosby, this herpetological work has been rebound in genuine snakeskin.


    Pablo Picasso. Hommage a Basket. ca. 1928.

    7.308 FF 9.7 Carlton Lake Art Collection

    This collage-object in wool, steel wire, satin and lace depicts a miniature poodle holding a basket of roses. Attributed to Pablo Picasso, it was presented and inscribed to Gertrude Stein as a "little brother" for her and Alice B. Toklas' beloved poodle, Basket.


    Ernest Hemingway. Manuscript drafts of Death in the Afternoon.

    Box 2.4-6 Ernest Hemingway Collection

    Typescript drafts with handwritten annotations for Ernest Hemingway's 1932 non-fiction work on bullfighting in Spain. The author approaches this controversial subject as a study in art, metaphysics, and ritual, seeing the bullfight as analogous to the writer's struggle for truth.


    Terence Hanbury White. Journals: 1939-1941; handwritten manuscript with photographs, watercolors, letters, feathers, and other items pasted in, 395 pages.

    Box 27.1 T. H. (Terence Hanbury) White Collection 1899-1997

    This extensive journal documents British author T. H. White's longstanding interest in falconry, hunting, natural history, and animal behavior. Of particular interest is a lock of hair from White's beloved Irish setter, Brownie, inscribed with the date of her death.


    J. Frank Dobie. "Observations and reflections of a deer hunter." 1971.

    Box 229.4 James Frank Dobie Papers

    This short work by J. Frank Dobie reflects on his experiences as a deer hunter in the Texas Hill Country. Dobie had a longstanding interest in natural history, rural Texan culture, and local folklore, and published extensively on these topics.


    Sandy Skoglund. Radioactive Cats. 1980.

    983:0038:0001 PH:OV:087 Sandy Skoglund Collection

    This photograph presents a staged domestic scene featuring an older married couple surrounded by 24 sculpted plaster cats painted a fluorescent green. Skoglund's installation posits a future in which domestic animals have adapted to nuclear radiation, perhaps even more readily than humans.


    T. Coraghessan Boyle. When the Killing's Done (2011) Research material and notes. 2007-2009.

    Box 53.4 T. Coraghessan Boyle Papers

    T. Coraghessan Boyle. When the Killing's Done (2011) Bound advance uncorrected proofs

    Box 53.6 T. Coraghessan Boyle Papers

    T. C. Boyle's 2011 novel When the Killing's Done depicts a heated conflict over the management of invasive species in California's Channel Islands. Based on historical events, the novel pits a passionate animal rights activist against the National Parks Service, which plans to eradicate the feral pigs and non-native black rats of Ancapa island. Boyle's typically extensive research includes articles on biology, local history, and environmental science.

  • Nature and Society

    This collection explores the impact of changing conceptions of nature on Western society and politics. Several nineteenth-century books help contextualize the emerging discourse of Darwinian natural science, and its impact on the religious, political, and cultural landscape of the Western Hemisphere. More recent archives, including those of writers Peter Matthiessen, Anita Brenner, and Julia Alvarez, reflect contemporary debates about environmental ethics, representation, and justice.

    Item List


    Country contentments or, The husbandmans recreations. : Containing the wholesome experiences, in which any man ought to recreate himselfe after the toyle of more serious businesse. By Gervase Markham. 1631.

    SK 25 M3 1631

    This seventeenth-century sporting companion offers instructions in "Hunting, Hawking, Coursing with Greyhounds and the laws of the Lease, Shooting in Long-Bow or Cross-bow, Bowling, Tennis, Baloone, The whole Art of Angling, and the use of the Fighting Cocke." Early modern social standing implied familiarity with all of these pastimes, and works like this one sprang up to meet a growing demand from ambitious social climbers.


    The natural history of the Bible: or a description of all the beasts, birds, fishes, insects, reptiles, trees, plants, metals, precious stones, & mentioned in the sacred Scriptures. Collected from the best authorities, and alphabetically arranged. By Thaddeus M. Harris. 1793.

    QH 82 H2

    The Enlightenment spurred an early desire to reconcile orthodox Christian beliefs with emerging scientific discoveries. This eighteenth-century account applies these discoveries to the natural phenomena described in the Bible.


    Natural theology: or, Evidences of the existence and attributes of the deity, collected from the appearances of nature. By William Paley. 1803.

    HS-4073

    First U.S. edition of William Paley's influential argument for intelligent design, which attempted to accommodate emerging scientific discourse with Biblical accounts of creation.


    Designs for the pavilion at Brighton : Humbly inscribed to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. By H. Repton, Esq. with the assistance of his sons, John Adey Repton ... and G.S. Repton, architects. 1808.

    -F- NA 8450 R468 1808 WAU

    Illustrated design book produced by renowned British landscape architect Humphry Repton, with articulated pages to show "before" and "after" images of carefully produced garden vistas. Repton, the de facto successor to famed landscape gardener Capability Brown, excelled in creating "natural" vistas even on previously occupied lands.


    On the origin of the species by means of natural selection, or, The preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. 1859.

    QH 365 O1859 (Copy 4)

    This annotated copy of Darwin's pivotal work on natural selection is inscribed by the author to astronomer and scientist John Frederick William Herschel, who Darwin had visited in Cape Town during the famous voyage of the HMS Beagle. Darwin's works played a pivotal, and controversial, role in altering the relationship between the natural sciences and public discourse.


    Extra-illustrated KJV Bible. 1800~1862.

    Copy 3

    A nineteenth-century King James Bible with additional illustrations from subsequent owners, including a set of fossil engravings inserted alongside the Genesis creation account. These extra-illustrations provide a rare and fascinating look at the developing relationship between religion and science.


    Anita Brenner. Literary and Research Files: Mexico. "Agrarian, Indian question and rural education."

    Box 26.1 Anita Brenner Papers

    Writer and Mexican art and history scholar Anita Brenner's research files include accounts of rural labor and political struggle in Mexico. Also present in her papers are agricultural files related to her family farm in Aguascalientes, which she oversaw from 1961 until her death in 1974.


    Sanora Babb. Whose Names Are Unknown (2004) Research Material and Notes. Farm Security Administration Eviction notice, field notes, ideas, letters from migrants, songs, FSA publications, circa 1936-1940.

    Box 18.6 Sanora Babb Papers

    The papers of Sanora Babb include drafts, correspondence, research, and photographs related to her early work in the Farm Security Administration camps of rural California. Her novel, Whose Names Are Unknown, was refused publication after the success of John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. Her research materials for this novel document the conditions experienced by migrant workers during the Dust Bowl, and include a large number of photographs by her sister Dorothy Babb.


    Terence Hanbury White. The once and future king: Book five: The book of Merlyn: Handwritten manuscript with revisions and inserts, 217 pages in notebook, undated.

    Box 16.5 T. H. White Papers

    A "lost episode" of T. H. White's Arthurian sequence The Once and Future King (1938-1941), in which King Arthur debates politics, war, fascism and communism with various members of the animal kingdom. The Book of Merlyn was later published based on materials discovered in White's archive at the HRC.


    Magnum Photos, Inc., Subject Files: Ecology

    Box 191-192 Magnum Photos, Inc., Photography Collection

    The Magnum Photos, Inc. collection contains two boxes of photographs under the subject heading "ecology," featuring images of industrial impact and political unrest. These images document rising concerns with ecological crisis across the latter half of the twentieth century.


    Deep Treasure: A Story of Oil. By Elizabeth Olds. 1958.

    TN 870 O45 1958

    This visually striking children's book by American visual artist Elizabeth Olds chronicles the history and techniques of the petroleum industry for grades 3-5. Adorned with a grinning pterodactyl on its cover, the book offers visual accounts of the discovery, applications, and impact of oil on modern society. The Ransom Center also holds artwork and manuscript collections for Elizabeth Olds.


    Peter Matthiessen. "Holograph notes for New York Times Magazine article "Our National Parks: The Case for Burning," Dec. 11, 1988.

    Box 54 Peter Matthiessen Papers

    Peter Matthiessen. NYT Magazine Article "Our National Parks: The Case for Burning" Dec 11, 1988

    Box 63 Peter Matthiessen Papers

    The papers of naturalist, novelist, and journalist Peter Matthiessen include research, notes, and published works from across the writer's extensive career. Matthiessen was a longtime advocate for indigenous cultures, conservation, and environmental justice. These notes contribute to an article in favor of controlled burns on U. S. National Park land. Other materials of interest include manuscript drafts of Matthiessen's bestselling nonfiction work The Snow Leopard (1978), and his novel on a turtle fishery in the Cayman islands, Far Tortuga (1975).


    T. Coraghessan Boyle. A Friend of the Earth (2000) Research and notes; draft pages, 1996-1999, undated [removed from 3-ring binder].

    Box 37.1-2 T. Coraghessan Boyle Papers

    Author T. C. Boyle's work is increasingly concerned with environmental issues. His novel A Friend of the Earth speculates about a future shaped by climate change, exploring the imagined legacy of environmentalist movements in 2025 American society. The T. C. Boyle papers include research, drafts, and notes contributing to the novel's creation.


    Julia Alvarez. 'Alta Gracia Speeches,' printouts, some with edits, research and related material, 2000-2003.

    Box 178.1 Julia Alvarez Papers

    Dominican-American author Julia Alvarez was committed to promoting environmental sustainability and social justice. She and her partner Bill Eichner launched and operated an experimental organic coffee farm and literacy center in in the Dominican Republic, called Alta Gracia. These materials include transcripts and research for the many speeches the author made to raise awareness for the project.

  • Nature in the Arts

    This collection examines the many ways in which the natural world has been shaped, repurposed, and represented by artists and writers. These items highlight, in various ways, nature's dynamic role in the process and production of creative works. By necessity, the collection covers a wide range of materials, including a medieval Book of Hours, an eighteenth-century treatise on natural history in literature, illuminated works of Romantic and Gothic poetry, a book of ecological poetry by Erasmus Darwin, drafts of D. H. Lawrence's nature poetry, and manuscripts from T. H. White, Julia Alvarez, and other contemporary authors.

    Item List


    Book of Hours, use of Rome. By Catholic Church. French. 15th Century.

    HRC 2 Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection

    Medieval devotional text decorated with thirteen full-page miniatures, one half-page miniature, and 144 bas de page vignettes, the majority depicting animals. Original text, with illustrations added in the nineteenth century.


    An essay on the application of natural history to poetry. By John Aikin. 1777.

    Am Ai44 777e

    This eighteenth century treatise by John Aikin seems to anticipate the Romantics' interest in nature as a poetic subject. Aikin suggests that the poet should employ the observational techniques of natural science: "As the artist who has not studied the body with anatomical precision, and examined the proportions of every limb, both with respect to its own several parts, and the whole system, cannot produce a just and harmonious representation of the human frame; so the descriptive poet, who does not habituate himself to view the several objects of nature minutely, and in comparison with each other, must ever fail in giving his pictures the congruity and animation of real life" (11).


    The botanic garden; a poem, in two parts. By Erasmus Darwin. 1791.

    -Q- QK 81 D229b 1791

    This work by Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin, demonstrates a fascinating blend of popular science and poetic invention. Responding to the rising popularity of amateur botany prompted by the translation of Carl Linnaeus' works, Darwin's text blurs the line between art and science, with lengthy footnotes accompanying anthropomorphized descriptions of plant reproduction.


    Shelley, Percy Bysshe. The sensitive plant and other poems, illuminated calligraphic manuscript copy by Alberto Sangorski. Undated.

    Box 1.6 Percy Bysshe Shelley Collection

    This illuminated copy of Percy Shelley's long poem "The sensitive plant" by book artist Alberto Sangorski (ca early twentieth century) offers two simultaneous lenses on the depiction of nature, in both Shelley's extended gardening metaphor and the natural motifs present in Sangorski's elaborate illustrations.


    Designs for the pavilion at Brighton : Humbly inscribed to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. By H. Repton, Esq. with the assistance of his sons, John Adey Repton ... and G.S. Repton, architects. 1808.

    -F- NA 8450 R468 1808 WAU

    Illustrated design book produced by renowned British landscape architect Humphry Repton, with articulated pages to show "before" and "after" images of carefully produced garden vistas. Repton, the de facto successor to famed landscape gardener Capability Brown, excelled in creating "natural" vistas even on previously occupied lands.


    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; a prose translation. Golden Cockerel Press edition.

    -Q- PR 2065 G3 1952

    This richly illustrated limited edition of the Pearl Poet's famous 14th-century alliterative poem features six color engravings by British illustrator Dorothea Braby. The engravings highlight the poem's symbolic depiction of the conflict between nature--represented by the Green Knight--and the Christian civilization of King Arthur's court.


    Circus Collection. Series I. American Circuses; Performers; Animal acts

    Box 5 Performing Arts Circus Collection

    The Performing Arts Circus Collection contains newspaper clippings, photographs, posters, programs, and musical scores related to individual circuses, acts, and performers dating from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. The materials in this particular box cover a range of animal acts, which were often billed as major attractions.


    Grahame, Alastair and Grahame, Kenneth. The Merry Thought. 1908.

    Box 2.1-6 Kenneth Grahame Collection. See card catalog.

    This whimsical home-made literary journal was produced and edited by Alastair Grahame, the eight-year-old son of famed Wind In the Willows author Kenneth Grahame, with the guidance of his governess Naomi Stott. Alastair solicited contributions from his father, Stott, and neighborhood friends, and contributed several stories and poems himself. The journal features appearances from several Wind in the Willows characters. Of particular interest is Alastair's poem "Suffragette Ode," accompanied with a poem by his father about a cat advocating for women's suffrage.


    Cummings, E. E. Landscape Painting [New Hampshire Farm].

    78.46.4 E. E. Cummings Art Collection

    This lush watercolor painting, part of American poet E. E. Cummings' art collection, depicts a scene of clouds, distant hills and wildflowers, strikingly presented in red and orange hues. As with many other writers whose art collections are housed at the Ransom Center--including D. H. Lawrence and Evelyn Waugh--Cummings' visual artworks often reflect aspects of his literary style. In this case, the painting's landscape seems charged with the poet's trademark exuberance.


    Lawrence, D. H. Manuscript draft for Birds, Beasts and Flowers.

    Box 2.2 D. H. Lawrence Collection

    D. H. Lawrence's first collection of poems, published in 1923, reflects on the natural world through the extreme "otherness" of animal and vegetable perspectives. Lawrence's characteristically evocative poems are given titles based on their subjects, which include pomegranates, snakes, almond trees and mosquitoes, to name a few.


    White, T. H. Journals: 1939-1941; handwritten manuscript with photographs, watercolors, letters, feathers, and other items pasted in, 395 pages.

    Box 27.1 T. H. (Terence Hanbury) White Collection

    This extensive journal documents British author T. H. White's longstanding interest in falconry, hunting, natural history, and animal behavior. Pasted into its pages are a number of photographs, feathers, a claw from a grouse killed by one of White's hawks, and a lock of hair from White's beloved Irish setter, Brownie, inscribed with the date of her death. Many of these animals feature as characters in White's popular Arthurian sequence, The Once and Future King (1958).


    Peter Matthiessen. Correspondence for The Snow Leopard (1978).

    Box 49.8 Peter Matthiessen Papers 1958-1995

    This series of correspondence with prolific nature writer and novelist Peter Matthiessen relates to his expedition in search of the rare and endangered Himalayan snow leopard in the mountains of Nepal with biologist George Schaller. The series includes letters from Schaller offering advice for preventing altitude sickness and negotiating with Nepalese and Chinese authorities, Matthiessen's Himalayan entry permit, Schaller's notes on local fauna, and letters from Matthiessen's young son. The Matthiessen Papers also include extensive drafts for his bestselling The Snow Leopard and many of his novels, which often deal with ecological themes and crises.


    Smith, Thomas G. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) (Teeny-Weenies; Grounded) Production boards, 1987.

    Box 10.6-11.2 Thomas Smith Papers

    The papers of visual effects producer Thomas Smith include storyboards and special effects designs for several well-known films of the 1980s and 1990s. Smith oversaw visual effects for George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic, working on such films as Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. (1982), Star Trek: The Search for Spock (1983), and Star Wars: Episode VI-Return of the Jedi (1983). In 1986, Smith began working for Disney, where he was involved with the film featured here, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. These production boards were integral in creating the film's striking visual effects, which depict a group of suburban children accidentally shrunk by their eccentric father's invention as they encounter a fascinating, and alarming, wilderness in their own backyard.


    Alvarez, Julia. The Nature Conservancy: Invitation to contribute, correspondence and related materials. 1996.

    Box 144.6 Julia Alvarez Papers

    Alvarez, Julia. "Victor" in Off the beaten path: stories of place, edited by Joseph Barbato and Lisa Weinerman Horak of the Nature Conservancy. 1998.

    PS 648 N32 O39 1998

    This pair of items includes correspondence and research materials related to a short story written by Dominican-American author Julia Alvarez for an anthology benefitting the Nature Conservancy, and Alvarez's own annotated copy of this anthology. Alvarez, who was devoted to promoting environmental conservation and sustainability, also gave a keynote address at a Nature Conservancy event describing what she had learned through her and her husband Bill Eichner's efforts to maintain a sustainable coffee farm and literacy center in the Dominican Republic.

  • Nature in the Sciences

    This collection reflects the history of natural science both as a discipline and as a catalyst for cultural change. Early works in botany, zoology, and astronomy reveal the material cultures surrounding new ideas and attitudes toward the natural world, documenting emerging Enlightenment discourses of instrumental knowledge. These discourses continue in the extensive Herschel family collection materials, which include manuscripts, books, and correspondence relevant to the development of nineteenth-century science. Materials from Charles Darwin and Charles Lyell further reflect monumental shifts in science as a public discourse, as theories of evolution and geological time clashed with prevailing religious cosmologies.

    Item List


    Hortus sanitatis. 1491.

    Incun 1491 H787

    This early herbal encyclopedia, illustrated with over a thousand hand-colored woodcuts, describes a variety of plant and animal species, along with their medicinal uses. In addition to its descriptions of existing flora and fauna, it records accounts of mythical creatures such as the dragon, the harpy, and the hydra. This volume was printed by Jacob Meydenbach in Mainz, Germany.


    De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. By Nicolaus Copernicus. 1543.

    QB 41 C76

    This astronomical treatise famously posits Copernicus' heliocentric theory of the solar system, challenging existing Ptolemaic ideas that the sun and planets revolved around the earth. This claim helped launch a scientific revolution that would reshape prevailing conceptions of humanity's position in the cosmos.


    The farrier's new guide. : Containing, first, the anatomy of a horse ... Secondly, an account of all the diseases incident to horses. By W. (William) Gibson. 1754.

    SF 955 G5 1754

    Early accounts of natural history were often highly pragmatic, with an emphasis on the care and use of domestic plants and animals. This eighteenth-century guide to equestrian medicine, with fold-out illustrations and anatomical drawings, gives instructions for the care, feeding, and exercise of horses.


    Caroline Herschel. Tables for the variation of the stars for one year, 16 pages bound, 1783-1789.

    Box 36.5 Herschel Family Papers

    German astronomer Caroline Herschel, one of the first women to be recognized and named an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society, worked with her brother and fellow astronomer William Herschel, most famous for his discovery of the planet Uranus. These tables record Caroline Herschel's observations of annual star variations from 1783 to 1789.


    The natural history and antiquities of Selborne. By Gilbert White. 1789.

    QH 138 S4 W5 1789

    Arguably one of the most influential naturalist works of all time, Gilbert White's series of observations on the natural history and animal behavior patterns of his native English village has been continuously in print since its first publication. White's work has inspired generations of amateur and professional naturalists, including Charles Darwin, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Virginia Woolf. This first edition, privately printed by White's brother, is signed by the author.


    The botanic garden; a poem, in two parts. By Erasmus Darwin. 1791.

    -Q- QK 81 D229b 1791

    This work by Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin, demonstrates a fascinating blend of popular science and poetic invention. Responding to the rising popularity of amateur botany prompted by the translation of Carl Linnaeus' works, Darwin's text blurs the line between art and science, with lengthy footnotes accompanying anthropomorphized descriptions of plant reproduction.


    Thomas Jefferson. Letter to Charles Willson Peale, dated 29 July, 1801.

    Little Alphabet Thomas Jefferson Collection. See card catalog.

    In this holograph letter written during the first year of his presidency, Thomas Jefferson praises Charles Willson Peale's efforts to recover the skeleton of "the great incognitum" (now known as the American mastodon, Mammut americanum). He regrets his own inability to offer support, but promises assistance from the Army and Navy in outfitting the expedition. Part of Jefferson's excitement sprang from a suspicion that the animal, then thought to be carnivorous, might still survive somewhere in the New World. The new President was eager for a national symbol of American vigor, particularly since prevailing opinions suggested that New World fauna were, in general, smaller and less impressive than those of Africa, Europe and Asia.


    Natural theology: or, Evidences of the existence and attributes of the deity, collected from the appearances of nature. By William Paley. 1803.

    HS-4073

    First U.S. edition of William Paley's influential argument for intelligent design, which attempted to accommodate emerging scientific discourse with Biblical accounts of creation.


    Principles of Geology. By Charles Lyell. 1835.

    QE 26 L9 1835

    The work of prominent Scottish geologist Charles Lyell, first printed in three volumes from 1830-1833, was influential in shaping emerging Victorian discourses of geological "deep time," challenging biblical accounts of the earth's age and the scale of human history. A close friend of Charles Darwin, Lyell's ideas contributed to Darwin's thinking on the processes of evolution. Lyell's works were widely read by non-academic audiences: for instance, Volume 4 of this 1835 edition belonged to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


    John James Audubon. Letters to Thomas McCulloch, 9 July 1837 and 18 October 1840.

    Little Alphabet John James Audubon Collection. See card catalog.

    In these letters to clergyman and educator Thomas McCulloch, renowned naturalist John James Audubon requests taxidermied samples of various fauna from McCulloch's extensive natural history collection in Nova Scotia. Samples like the ones described were instrumental in the nineteenth-century proliferation of natural history museums, with donated private collections forming the basis of what are now national holdings in both England and the United States.


    Sir John Frederick William Herschel. Botanical notebook, circa 1861.

    Box 2.38 Herschel Family Papers

    Sir John Frederick William Herschel. Notes written in the natural ink of a certain toadstool, 22 September 1841-4 October 1847.

    Box 2.43 Herschel Family Papers

    This pair of items by polymath scientist and inventor John Herschel reflect an interest in botany cultivated during his stay in Cape Town, South Africa, where he was visited by the HMS Beagle and a young Charles Darwin in 1836. The Herschel Family papers contain a wealth of material related not only to John Herschel's extensive research in astronomy, botany, and photography, but to his father William and aunt Caroline's groundbreaking astronomical works.


    Extra-illustrated KJV Bible. 1800-1862.

    Copy 3

    This volume of the King James Bible features additional illustrations added by subsequent owners, including a set of fossil engravings inserted alongside the Genesis creation account. These extra-illustrations provide a rare and fascinating look at the developing relationship between nineteenth-century religion and science.


    On the origin of the species by means of natural selection. By Charles Darwin. 1859.

    QH 365 O1859

    This annotated copy of Darwin's monumental work on natural selection is inscribed by the author to astronomer and scientist John Frederick William Herschel, to whom Darwin refers in the book's opening as "one of our greatest philosophers." Darwin's works played a pivotal role in the development of the natural sciences and their prevalence in public discourse, while famously prompting an ongoing set of religious controversies.


    Charles Darwin. The Descent of Man: "Chapter II: Language", handwritten manuscript.

    Little Alphabet Charles Darwin Collection. See card catalog.

    A manuscript fragment of Darwin's chapter on language from The Descent of Man, published in 1871, which linked Darwin's theories of natural selection to the processes of human and animal evolution through sexual selection.

Classroom Experiences Your Research Account Teaching Guides

This teaching guide was developed by Reid Echols.