Who was Ruth Turner?

[written by Bruno Costelini, Science without Borders intern at the Ernst Mayr Library]

Ruth Dixon Turner (1914-2000) was one of the foremost marine scientists of the 20th century. She taught at Harvard but carried out research all over the world, working with wood-boring mollusks, such as shipworms. In the late 1970s after the discovery of hydrothermal vents she was the first woman to dive in the deep submergence vehicle Alvin, which she kept on doing for the next couple of decades.

While going through her papers, housed at the Library, we came across the following...

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Notes from William Brewster: Trials in Wildlife Photography

This post is part of a series on the collection of ornithologist William Brewster (1851-1919) at the Ernst Mayr Library, written by Elizabeth Meyer, Library Project Assistant.

In the mid-1890s, Brewster’s journals increasingly reference using new methods of data collection. Though he continued to collect specimens on a smaller scale, with focus shifted from birds to their nests and eggs, his journals show that he began to use his gun more for securing dinner than for data collection. He started to bring field glasses (binoculars) and a boxy Kodak camera on his excursions.

Setting up photographs in the field was challenging. Sometimes a bit of prep work helped, such as thinning the foliage in backcountry areas: “I spent the day ashore taking a walk through the wood road in the forenoon with camera & hatchet selecting & cutting out spots for photographing later.” (Sunshine, Deer Island, Maine. June 26, 1896.)

Opportunistic shots of live animals were even trickier, but once in a while he managed to get some good shots. 


Sepia-toned photo of a porcupine on a tree branch.

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Notes from William Brewster: Ornithologists in the Courtroom

In March 1886, one deacade before the Massachusetts Audubon Society for the Protection of Birds had organized, William Brewster wrote three letters to fellow ornithologist George Sennett, describing an early attempt to pass bird protection legislation in Massachusetts.

Brewster, who would become the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s first president and a co-founder of the American...

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Transcribing the Field Notes of William Brewster

William Brewster (1851-1919) was a renowned American amateur ornithologist, first president of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and a president of the American Ornithologists' Union. He was an avid collector of birds and their nests and eggs, and collected over forty thousand specimens from 1861 until his death in 1919. His collection, bequeathed to the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, is considered one of the finest private collections of North American birds ever assembled. Though Brewster collected throughout North America, his collection is especially...

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Illustrator James Henry Blake (1845-1941)

Works by James Henry Blake (1845-1941) on display at the Ernst Mayr Library

A new exhibit of drawings and watercolors by J.H. Blake, is now on display in the lobby of the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology.   Join us for a reception in honor of the exhibit on July 25, 2013 from 2:30-4:30pm.  The exhibit was developed by Robert Young, Special Collections Librarian.  Notes on Blake’s life and work follow below.


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