Alexander Wilson and the 200th anniversary of American Ornithology

Alexander Wilson. Portrait by Thomas Sully.

Alexander Wilson.
Portrait by Thomas Sully. [Source]

Last week, Jed Burtt hosted a symposium at Ohio Wesleyan University in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the ninth and final volume of Alexander Wilson’s American Ornithology — arguably the first major scientific publication out of the United States, and a cornerstone of American ornithology. The symposium talks went well beyond the scientific story, and included talks on Wilson’s friends and contemporaries, Wilson the political activist, Wilson the poet, Wilson the artist, and of course Wilson the naturalist and scientist.

In addition to the wonderful talks about Wilson, Jed arranged for collector Tom Blanton to display all 76 of the color plates produced by Wilson and published in those nine volumes. This was perhaps the first time all 76 plates have been put on display together, ever!  So, with my cell phone battery threatening to die on me, I managed to photograph them all.  With a bit of cropping and automatic “enhancing” (color adjustment and deblurring) to correct for the less-than-optimal lighting conditions, here they are!

To view the images, individually or as a slide show, click the thumbnails below.

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