John and William Bartram

Image: Monument to Captain James Cook at Gisborne, on the east coast of the North Island, New Zealand. The monument was erected in 1994 .

From: Chapter Three (1726-c.1748) of Benjamin Franklin in London (2016) by George Goodwin:

“(James Logan) very much took to these young men and to their friend John Bartram, a Pennsylvanian botanist and farmer

…Franklin would also provide the organisational ability needed to create the American Philosophical Society (1743). It was modelled on the Royal Society and still “promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research”. Based on the idea of John Bartram for forming an organisation that linked together “natural philosophers” from all the American colonies, it was the first cross-colonial learned Society. It was important for Franklin, because it established a network that would, with the active support of Peter Collinson, link him into the European scientific communities.”

From a review by THOMPSON, D. of John and William Bartram, Botanists and Explorers: 1699–1777, 1739–1823. in Nature 148, 452–453 (1941):

“THIS book is delightful reading. It tells of pleasant people in happy times, for it is mostly about Philadelphia in Benjamin Franklin’s day. John Bartram, member of the Society of Friends and poorly educated in a village school, bought a piece of rough land on the Schuylkill River, hard by the city, in the year 1728; there he built his house, drained his land and won his way to prosperity. Meanwhile he planted a garden and learned botany, became a friend of Benjamin Franklin, and signed his name next to Franklin’s own on the Founders’ Roll of the American Philosophical Society. He came in close touch with Peter Collinson, and was the chief source of new and rare American plants for him and his many gardening friends; sent pine–cones to the Duke of Norfolk and seeds to Philip Miller and dozens more; was dubbed king’s botanist for the American Colonies by George III, made a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Stockholm, and called by Linnaeus the greatest natural botanist in the world.”

From Wikipedia: “As a boy, William accompanied his father John on many of his travels to the Catskill Mountains, the New Jersey Pine Barrens, New England, and Florida. From his mid-teens, William Bartram was noted for the quality of his botanic and ornithological drawings. He also had an increasing role in the maintenance of his father’s botanic garden, and added many rare species to it.”

From the website of the Natural History Museum, London:

Library and Archives – The Americas

The European presence in the Americas dates back to fifteenth-century colonisation by the emerging Spanish and Portuguese empires. By the eighteenth century, France and England had established themselves in North America, which became a favoured region for exploration and collecting. 

The Library’s collections are as diverse as the history of the Americas. From the early botanical illustrations of William Young to Margaret Mee’s twentieth-century work on the loss of biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest, our collections feature works from the time of the voyages of discovery through to the present day.  

Our collections mainly focus on beautiful artwork and scientific literature, but also include imagery and data from the last 300 years, ranging from early voyages of exploration and associated materials to the latest online research journals.

Highlights of our artwork collections include America naturalist William Bartram’s stunning pen and ink drawings depicting early ecological studies, in addition to his travel journals  and notes on the native flora and fauna of the southern states of North America. The collections also feature Sydney Parkinson’s watercolours of Brazilian flora from James Cook’s Endeavour voyage, and two original watercolours on vellum by Maria Sibylla Merian.    

The Museum holds two editions of The Birds of America by John James Audubon. The Birds of America is Audubon’s most famous work and revolutionised natural history art, portraying birds full of drama and life in their natural habitat.”

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