Thomas Say: New World Naturalist

Thomas Say: New World Naturalist

Thomas Say: New World Naturalist

Thomas Say: New World Naturalist

Synopsis

"Explorer, pioneering natural scientist, and a founder of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Thomas Say (1787-1834) devoted his life to establishing the authority of American scientists to name and describe their native flora and fauna (until then, specimens were sent to Europe for that purpose). He was the first to name and describe for science the coyote, plains grey wolf, and swift fox, in addition to several western birds and many amphibians. He ranks with William Bartram, Alexander Wilson, Thomas Nuttall, and John James Audubon as one of the great naturalists of early America. In the early nineteenth century, Say was successful in founding the sciences of entomology and conchology in the United States. He wrote the first book published in America on insects, American Entomology (1824-1828), primarily illustrated by Titian Peale. In 1817 Say joined the wealthy Scottish geologist and social reformer, William Maclure, on an expedition to Spanish-controlled Florida and the sea islands off the coast of Georgia; two years later, he was the first trained scientist to accompany a government-sponsored expedition to the west, when he joined Stephen H. Long's expedition to the Rocky Mountains. At the instigation of Maclure, Say moved to Robert Owen's "utopian" community of New Harmony, Indiana, in 1825. It was there, under relatively primitive conditions, that he produced his great work on shells, American Conchology, with plates drawn and colored by his wife, Lucy Sistare Say. This is the first full biography of Thomas Say in sixty years. Patricia Tyson Stroud, herself a member of the Say family, draws upon Say's correspondence and other biographical details to present an accurate, detailed picture of Say's personality and character. Thomas Say, New World Naturalist will be of interest to anyone interested in the history of science, Philadelphia history, history of the early Republic, biography, entomology, and malacology." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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