Naturalists in the Field

Collecting, Recording and Preserving the Natural World from the Fifteenth to the Twenty-First Century


Interposed between the natural world in all its diversity and the edited form in which we encounter it in literature, imagery and the museum, lie the multiple practices of the naturalists in selecting, recording and preserving the specimens from which our world view is to be reconstituted. The factors that weigh at every stage are here dissected, analysed and set within a historical narrative that spans more than five centuries. During that era, every aspect evolved and changed, as engagement with nature moved from a speculative pursuit heavily influenced by classical scholarship to a systematic science, drawing on advanced theory and technology. Far from being neutrally objective, the process of representing nature is shown as fraught with constraint and compromise.

Contributors are: Marie Addyman, Peter Barnard, Paul D. Brinkman, Ian Convery, Peter Davis, Felix Driver, Florike Egmond, Annemarie Jordan Gschwend, Geoff Hancock, Stephen Harris, Hanna Hodacs, Stuart Houston, Dominik Huenniger, Rob Huxley, Charlie Jarvis, Malgosia Nowak-Kemp, Shepard Krech III, Mark Lawley, Arthur Lucas, Marco Masseti, Geoff Moore, Pat Morris, Charles Nelson, Robert Peck, Helen Scales, Han F. Vermeulen, and Glyn Williams.
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Biographical Note

Arthur MacGregor, D.Litt (1999), formerly a curator at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. He has published Curiosity and Enlightenment (2007), Animal Encounters (2012) and has edited some 13 other books and c.130 articles. He is editor of the Journal of the History of Collections (OUP).

Table of contents

Contents ForewordSir David Attenborough Editor’s Preface  Arthur MacGregor List of Illustrations List of Contributors 1 IntroductionArthur MacGregor 2 New World and Other Exotic Animals in the Italian Renaissance: the Menageries of Lorenzo Il Magnifico and His Son, Pope Leo XMarco Masseti 3 The Emperor’s Exotic and New World Animals: Hans Khevenhüller and Habsburg Menageries in Vienna and PragueAnnemarie Jordan Gschwend 4 “Judge by experience and by learninge”: the Fieldwork of William Turner (c.1508-1568)Marie Addyman 5 On Northern Shores: Sixteenth-Century Observations of Fish and Seabirds (North Sea and North Atlantic)Florike Egmond 6 Collecting and Preserving Fishes: an Historical PerspectivePeter Davis 7 Into the Wild: Botanical Fieldwork in the Sixteenth CenturyFlorike Egmond 8 “Take with you a small Spudd or Trowell”: James Petiver’s Directions for Collecting Natural CuriositiesCharles E. Jarvis 9 Linnaean Scholars Out of Doors: So Much to Name, Learn and Profit FromHanna Hodacs 10 “Devilish fellows who test patience to the very limit”: Naturalists in the Pacific in the Age of CookGlyn Williams 11 Catesby’s BirdsShepard Krech III 12 The Hudson’s Bay Company and Its CollectorsC. Stuart Houston 13 European Enlightenment in India: an Episode of Anglo-German Collaboration in the Natural Sciences on the Coromandel Coast, Late 1700s–Early 1800sArthur MacGregor 14 Eight Ways to Catch a Seal: Fieldwork in Siberia in the Age of EnlightenmentHan F. Vermeulen 15 Face to Face with Nain Singh: the Schlagintweit Collections and Their UsesFelix Driver 16 More Than One Way to Skin a Wombat: the How and Why of Collecting in the South SeasRob Huxley 17 William Burchell in Southern Africa, 1811-1815Malgosia Nowak-Kemp 18 Snapshots of Tropical Diversity: Collecting Plants in Colonial and Imperial BrazilStephen A. Harris 19 From Tubs to Flying Boats: Episodes in Transporting Living PlantsE. Charles Nelson 20 Faunal Collecting, Inventorying and Systematizing in the Marine Environment: a Historical, Mostly British, PerspectiveP.G. Moore 21 Gathering Spirals: on the Naturalist and Shell Collector Hugh CumingHelen Scales 22 Bat-Fowlers, Pooters and Cyanide Jars: a Historical Overview of Insect Collecting and PreservationPeter C. Barnard 23 Nets, Labels and Boards: Materiality and Natural History Practices in Continental European Manuals on Insect Collecting 1688-1776Dominik Hünniger 24 Collecting Abroad, Preserving at Home: Titian Ramsay Peale Ii, American Entomologist and CollectorRobert McCracken Peck 25 John Russell Malloch: Amateur Naturalist to Professional TaxonomistE. Geoffrey Hancock 26 Reflections on Some Practical Aspects of Collecting During the Nineteenth and Twentieth CenturiesPat Morris 27 Following the Lure: Field Experience and Professional Opportunities in Turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century American Vertebrate PaleontologyPaul D. Brinkman 28 Evolving Contexts of Collecting: the Australian ExperienceA.M. Lucas 29 Virtual Collecting: Camera-Trapping and the Assembly of Population Data in Twenty-First-Century BiologySarah Elmeligi, Ian Convery, Volker Decker Deecke and Owen Nevin 30 The Psychology of Finding and Recognizing WildlifeMark Lawley Appendix: Key Texts in the History of Field Collecting Index


Academic and general readers with an interest in the natural sciences, both from a historical and a contemporary perspective.