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.

With a Foreword by Sir David Attenborough

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.
Restricted Access


EUR €245.00USD $294.00

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


Sir David Attenborough
Editor’s Preface
Arthur MacGregor
List of Illustrations
List of Contributors

1 Introduction
Arthur MacGregor

2 New World and Other Exotic Animals in the Italian Renaissance: the Menageries of Lorenzo Il Magnifico and His Son, Pope Leo X
Marco Masseti

3 The Emperor’s Exotic and New World Animals: Hans Khevenhüller and Habsburg Menageries in Vienna and Prague
Annemarie 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 Perspective
Peter Davis

7 Into the Wild: Botanical Fieldwork in the Sixteenth Century
Florike Egmond

8 “Take with you a small Spudd or Trowell”: James Petiver’s Directions for Collecting Natural Curiosities
Charles E. Jarvis

9 Linnaean Scholars Out of Doors: So Much to Name, Learn and Profit From
Hanna Hodacs

10 “Devilish fellows who test patience to the very limit”: Naturalists in the Pacific in the Age of Cook
Glyn Williams

11 Catesby’s Birds
Shepard Krech III

12 The Hudson’s Bay Company and Its Collectors
C. Stuart Houston

13 European Enlightenment in India: an Episode of Anglo-German Collaboration in the Natural Sciences on the Coromandel Coast, Late 1700s–Early 1800s
Arthur MacGregor

14 Eight Ways to Catch a Seal: Fieldwork in Siberia in the Age of Enlightenment
Han F. Vermeulen

15 Face to Face with Nain Singh: the Schlagintweit Collections and Their Uses
Felix Driver

16 More Than One Way to Skin a Wombat: the How and Why of Collecting in the South Seas
Rob Huxley

17 William Burchell in Southern Africa, 1811-1815
Malgosia Nowak-Kemp

18 Snapshots of Tropical Diversity: Collecting Plants in Colonial and Imperial Brazil
Stephen A. Harris

19 From Tubs to Flying Boats: Episodes in Transporting Living Plants
E. Charles Nelson

20 Faunal Collecting, Inventorying and Systematizing in the Marine Environment: a Historical, Mostly British, Perspective
P.G. Moore

21 Gathering Spirals: on the Naturalist and Shell Collector Hugh Cuming
Helen Scales

22 Bat-Fowlers, Pooters and Cyanide Jars: a Historical Overview of Insect Collecting and Preservation
Peter C. Barnard

23 Nets, Labels and Boards: Materiality and Natural History Practices in Continental European Manuals on Insect Collecting 1688-1776
Dominik Hünniger

24 Collecting Abroad, Preserving at Home: Titian Ramsay Peale Ii, American Entomologist and Collector
Robert McCracken Peck

25 John Russell Malloch: Amateur Naturalist to Professional Taxonomist
E. Geoffrey Hancock

26 Reflections on Some Practical Aspects of Collecting During the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
Pat Morris

27 Following the Lure: Field Experience and Professional Opportunities in Turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century American Vertebrate Paleontology
Paul D. Brinkman

28 Evolving Contexts of Collecting: the Australian Experience
A.M. Lucas

29 Virtual Collecting: Camera-Trapping and the Assembly of Population Data in Twenty-First-Century Biology
Sarah Elmeligi, Ian Convery, Volker Decker Deecke and Owen Nevin

30 The Psychology of Finding and Recognizing Wildlife
Mark Lawley

Appendix: Key Texts in the History of Field Collecting


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


Collection Information