Books Available for Adoption

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Books Available for Adoption

Sinking of the "Titanic"

By Jay Henry Mowbray. Harrisburg, Pa.: The Minter Company, 1912.
Adoption Amount: $750   Adoption Type: Preserve for the Future
Library: Smithsonian Libraries Research Annex

How fast could you write a 300 page book? Sensationalist journalist Jay Henry Mowbray turned out this edition of The Sinking of the Titanic (complete with illustrations and ready for sale) by May 11, 1912, less than a month after the ship struck that infamous iceberg. Speed puts this book into a curious genre—the “instant book.” The instant book narrates a contemporaneous event through a collage of sources, like government hearings or embellished descriptions, coalesced by journalists, then sold door-to-door as soon as possible. But why the need for speed? Like today, the... Read More
Sonoran Desert spring

Sonoran Desert Spring

By John Alcock. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.
Adoption Amount: $250   Adoption Type: Build the Collection
Library: National Museum of Natural History Library

John Alcock is a behavioral ecologist and professor at Arizona State University.  He writes in a very approachable style (similar to more popular and famous biologists like Stephen Jay Gould and E.O. Wilson) that splendidly reveals his passion and appreciation of desert life as a naturalist to the general public.  This 1985 title, “Sonoran Desert Spring,” contains numerous photographs (some in color) of the Sonoran desert during springtime. Read More
Sonoran Desert Summer John Alcock

Sonoran Desert Summer

By John Alcock. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1990.
Adoption Amount: $250   Adoption Type: Build the Collection
Library: National Museum of Natural History Library

John Alcock is a behavioral ecologist and professor at Arizona State University.  He writes in a very approachable style (similar to more popular and famous biologists like Stephen Jay Gould and E.O. Wilson) that splendidly reveals his passion and appreciation of desert life as a naturalist to the general public.  This 1990 title, “Sonoran Desert Summer,” is marvelously illustrated with pen and ink drawings by Marilyn Hoff Stewart. Read More
The title page of Amman's Stirpium Rariorum, with front board detached

Stirpium Rariorum

By Johann Amman. Petropoli: Ex Typographia Academiae Scientiarum, 1739.
Adoption Amount: $850   Adoption Type: Preserve for the Future
Library: Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History

Johann Amman (1707-1741) was a Swiss-born doctor and botanist who actively corresponded with both Hans Sloane and Carl Linnaeus. Amman did much to advance the study of botany in Russia— his 1739 Stirpium Rariorum was one of the first botanical works to be published by the Russian Academy of Sciences at Saint Petersburg, at which he was Chair of Botany. In addition, he cultivated a number of the specimens described in the book in the Academy’s Botanical Garden, which he founded. Amman was one of the “Encouragers” (subscribers) of Mark Catesby’s 1731-43 Natural History of... Read More
The "elephantine agriculture" of P.T. Barnum.

Struggles and Triumphs, or, Forty years' Recollections of P. T. Barnum

By P. T. Barnum. New York: American News Company, 1871.
Adoption Amount: $250   Adoption Type: Build the Collection
Library: American Art and Portrait Gallery Library

Written by Phineas T. Barnum himself, this 1871 edition of his ongoing autobiography features both sketches and stories from his adventures as a showman and novice circus owner. The final adventure in Chapter 48 involves a meeting with Brigham Young along with one of his children named Barnum, and some playful banter about bringing Young in as an “attraction.” Barnum had just started off his circus career in 1870 after stints in the museum industry, and his autobiography went through several iterations, with new and changed stories. One edition was even said to have been given out... Read More
Signature in Sunrise at Bone Valley

Sunrise at Bone Valley

By Frank A. Garcia. Apollo Beach, Fla: Frank A. Garcia, c1988.
Adoption Amount: $250   Adoption Type: Build the Collection
Library: National Museum of Natural History Library

"Pursuing the wonder of discovery" is an apt tagline for Frank A. Garcia. Despite having no formal education, Mr. Garcia has become one of America’s foremost paleontologists, discovering more than 30 previously unknown species (including two which were named after him). He slid down into phosphate pits with a broken leg, dug up massive prehistoric turtle bones with his dog Webster, and even went digging while recovering from back surgery. This short, self-published book is part autobiography and part field notes. It chronicles his very first fossil find (age 8), his discovery of a... Read More
Svenska spindlar

Svenska spindlar

By Carl Clerck. Stockholmiae: Literis Laur. Salvii, MDCCLVII [1757].
Adoption Amount: $3,150   Adoption Type: Build the Collection
Library: Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History

A member of the minor Swedish nobility, Clerck was a friend and correspondent of Linnaeus. He studied spiders, publishing his identifications and analyses in the present work along with observations on their behavior. In Swedish and Latin, it describes and illustrates 70 species and is a classic of arachnology; indeed, it is the founding text on spider nomenclature. It has the unique distinction of being accepted by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), despite having been published the year before the 10th edition of Linnaeus' Systema naturae (1758), which is... Read More
Synopsis methodica stirpium britannicarum.

Synopsis methodica stirpium britannicarum.

By John Ray. Londini: Prostant apud Sam. Smith ad insignia principis in coemeterio D. Pauli, MDCXC [1690].
Adoption Amount: $1,750   Adoption Type: Build the Collection
Library: Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History

Englishman John Ray (1627-1705) is considered by many to be the greatest naturalist of his day, and his works in the fields of botany and zoology are classics of pre-Linnean classification. The Synopsis methodica stirpium brittannicarum, in particular, was the standard botanical authority for many years; it is considered remarkably accurate in its coverage and descriptions of the British flora, and the classification follows a natural sequence, replacing earlier methods with the concept of grouping plants by direct observation of their similarities and differences. Ray's works are so... Read More
Synopsis of the Accipitres (diurnal birds of prey).

Synopsis of the Accipitres (diurnal birds of prey).

By H. Kirke Swann. London: Priv. print. for the author, [1921-1922].
Adoption Amount: $1,700   Adoption Type: Build the Collection
Library: Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History

Harry Kirke Swann (1871- 1926) was an ornithologist, author, bibliophile, book dealer, and publisher. Since 1921 he was the de facto owner of Wheldon and Wesley, the publishing and antiquarian book firm that attained a legendary status among natural-history book collectors (and served as the Smithsonian's European book agent from the 1860s until about 1960). Swann originally published his Synopsis of the Accipitres in four octavo parts, without plates (London: Wheldon and Wesley, 1919-20); a second edition (1921-22), revised and corrected, was again in octavo and without plates. However,... Read More
Zane Grey

Tales of fishes

By Zane Grey. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1926?.
Adoption Amount: $250   Adoption Type: Build the Collection
Library: National Museum of Natural History Library

Zane Grey, the American author famous for his popular Western adventure novels, published this non-fiction work in 1919. In addition to being a dentist and writer, Grey was an avid fisherman. This title is full of zesty and manly fishing adventures of watching and wrestling with big game fish off the coast of southern California and is tastefully illustrated with photos taken by the author. He writes of great love for the town of Avalon (“… the beautiful”), the only city on Santa Catalina Island, and notes how the growing international fishing industry was casting its “dark shadow” over... Read More

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