29

March

2009

0

Women’s History Month: Genevieve Estelle Jones

by Smithsonian Digital Library

In the Libraries' wonderful Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio, with an essay by Joy Kiser and introduction by Leslie K. Overstreet, we learn about Genevieve Estelle Jones and her determination to study and illustrate the birds of Ohio:

At the age of twenty-nine Genevieve visited the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia where she saw an exhibition of the paintings from Audubon's Birds of America. She returned to Circleville determined to create a book that would provide the missing details of the nests and eggs of these birds. At first she envisioned illustrating the nests and eggs of all the birds in North America. But her father, daunted by the time and expense involved with such an under-taking, persuaded her to limit the number to the 130 species of birds that nested in Ohio. (Nearly all of these birds are also seen in most of the contiguous United States.)

Gray Catbird

Illustrations of the nests and eggs of birds of Ohio was published in the small town of Circleville, Ohio, over a period of eight years (from 1879 to 1886) through the dedicated efforts of the family and friends of Genevieve Jones. Despite being produced not just by amateurs but largely by women, far from the publishing houses and intellectual centers of 19th-century America, the book was hailed as an extraordinary achievement from the moment its first few plates were published.

Published by subscription, a common means of financing large expensive books in those days, no more than 100 copies were made. Fewer than that survive today, so it's very scarce, and few people have ever seen it.

The Libraries, happily, has two copies. Enjoy all the plates and more in this lovely digital edition. —Elizabeth Periale

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