Tuesday, April 8, 7:30 pm – The American Natural History Tradition

The April meeting of the Cambridge Entomological Club will be held Tuesday, April 8 at 7:30 pm in Room 101 of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Oxford Street, Cambridge. Professor William Leach will present a talk about the American Natural History Tradition.

If we want to understand why Americans started to collect and study butterflies in the 19th century, we must first understand the evolution of natural history itself. Originating in Europe and England, natural history acted as a language of interpretation and as a way of understanding nature that opened it up. It revealed to Americans what butterflies were all about and why they mattered and were worthy of study and reflection. By the 1870s a brilliant group of American butterfly men had emerged, their ideas forged within the heart of this tradition. They made a profound contribution to natural history, bringing to it a radical Darwinian analysis and a passion for life histories perhaps unrivaled by any of their contemporaries. This talk will examine the character of natural history in America between 1865 and 1885 and the way men such as William Henry Edwards, Benjamin Walsh, (former CEC president) Samuel Scudder, Herman Strecker, Augustus Radcliffe Grote (pictured below,) and William Doherty transformed and enriched it.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Snacks will be provided and you are also welcome to join us at 6:00 PM for an informal pre-meeting dinner at the Cambridge Common.