Matthew Henson: Explorer, Scientist

Matthew Henson A member of the first expedition to reach the North Pole, Matthew Alexander Henson was an experienced member of several polar missions and essential to the success of Robert Peary’s famous explorations.1    “My thoughts were on the going and getting forward, and on nothing else.” -Matthew Henson Continue Reading

Amanda Almira Newton: Botanical Illustrator for the US Department of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705

Amanda Almira Newton was a prolific illustrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) who specialized in drawing watercolors of fruit. She contributed more than 1200 watercolor paintings to the USDA and also made more than 300 wax models of fruits. Her precise and detailed drawings were especially important in Continue Reading

Alice Eastwood: Pioneering Botanist, Explorer & Naturalist, Lifelong Lover of Flowers & Plants, California Academy of Sciences Curator of Botany

Alice Eastwood collecting plant specimens in the field, while holding her wooden plant press Childhood/Alice in Wonderland Alice Eastwood was born on January 19, 1859 in Toronto, Canada.1,4 Her childhood was a difficult one; at age 6, she promised her dying Irish mother, Eliza Jane (Gowdey) Eastwood, that she would Continue Reading

Elizabeth Gertrude Knight Britton: Bryologist, Educator, New York Botanical Gardens Founder

Born Elizabeth Gertrude Knight in New York City on January 9, 1857, she was the first of five daughters of James and Sophie Anne (Compton) Knight. She spent part of her early childhood on her grandfather’s sugar plantation in Matanzas, Cuba. Knight graduated from the Normal School (now Hunter College) Continue Reading

Jane Tost and Ada Rohu: A Remarkable Mother-Daughter Taxidermy Team

In 1863 taxidermist Jane Tost (c.1817-1889) was the first woman to be professionally employed by the Australian Museum, and later with her daughter Ada Rohu (1848-1928) she founded the extremely successful taxidermy and curio business – Tost and Rohu – which operated in Sydney from 1878 until the 1930’s.

John Tyley: Caribbean Botanical Illustrator in a Colonial World

John Tyley, watercolor on paper of [Fruit], ca. 1802 John Tyley worked as a botanical illustrator at the historic St. Vincent Botanical Garden in the late 1700s creating exquisite depictions of tropical plants.¹ Aside from the beautiful and detailed illustrations he left behind, little is known of this native Caribbean Continue Reading

Maria Sibylla Merian: Botanical Illustrator, Entomologist, and Explorer Ahead of Her Time

Illustration of a Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus) and a False Coral Snake (Anilius scytale) (1701–1705) by Maria Sibylla Merian, watercolor and gloss over etching on parchment   “Ever since my youth I have been engaged in the examination of insects. …I set aside my social life and devoted all my Continue Reading