Elizabeth Gould: An Accomplished Woman

Author’s note: Elizabeth Gould was a 19th century artist responsible for some of the most historically significant images of birds ever published. She was also a devoted wife and mother. It is sometimes difficult to reconcile both of these aspects of her life through our modern lens of 21st century social issues and feminism; it can be tempting to paint her story as that of a woman repressed by antiquated gender roles, more »

(Not so) Secret life of a woman naturalist: Mrs. Jane C. Loudon 1808-1878

In 1827, seventeen-year-old Jane Webb was adjusting to life after the death of her father.  She stated that, “on the winding up of his affairs that it would be necessary to do something for my support.”[i] She chose a rather creative solution to her financial challenges; she wrote a science fiction novel.  It did well, and Jane had a successful writing career, but never again wrote in the sci-fi genre.  If a more »

‘So you don’t have to go to the trouble of reading:’ Indexing, note-taking, and correction-making in Pliny’s 1491 Naturalis Historia

  “Do your reading!” and “Don’t write in your books!” are two oft-echoed directions from schoolteachers. A 1491 edition of Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia housed in our Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, however, challenges both of those commands: not only did Pliny write it in such a way that doesn’t necessitate reading it cover to cover, but readers in centuries past have added notes, reactions, and even corrections more »

The Last Jedi’s Monastic Retreat

The Skellig Islands. More stunning and other-worldly than any of the special effects of the past two Star Wars movies is the real-life towering rock outcroppings glimpsed in the closing moments of The Force Awakens (2015) and now playing a starring role in the blockbuster, The Last Jedi (2017). Although the Great Skellig, also known as Skellig Michael and Sceilig Mhichíl, and the Lesser (or Little) Skellig appear to be in a more »

The Fix: The Full Treatment

In conservation we use the term “full treatment” to describe when a book requires dis-binding the textblock, washing the pages, performing paper repair, re-sewing the sections, and replacing the boards and cover. In other words, it has received the maximum level of conservation care. As part of our Adopt-a-Book program, John Hill’s 1782 A History of Animals, from The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, arrived in the Book Conservation more »

Soldini’s Commentary on the Souls of Animals

This post was written by Daniel Euphrat, Digital Imaging Technician and Leslie K. Overstreet, Curator of Natural-History Rare Books. The title of the book De anima brutorum commentaria by Francesco Maria Soldini translates to Commentary on the Souls of Animals in English and the text is about exactly that topic. When it came to the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History in 2015, it was a rather unusual and curious more »

The Great Halifax Explosion

Along with time, humankind invariably changes the landscape. The geography and a series of events and errors that occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on December 6th, 1917, contributed to the most catastrophic and dramatic man-made violence to a surrounding area and its inhabitants before the Atomic Age. In the annals of disasters of the 20th century, including the Great War, the explosion that occurred at the Canadian harbor was particularly horrifying and more »

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