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Rafinesque’s Drawings of Tortoises, 1818

Old, bound field book open to pages with drawings of turtles, top and bottom, and difficult-to-read text in script.

Constantine Samuel Rafinesque was a Naturalist and Philologist born on October 22, 1783, in Constantinople. In the autumn of 1818 Rafinesque undertook a trip from Philadelphia to Kentucky, where he stayed with John James Audubon for eight days. During his travels south, Rafinesque kept a journal of his plant and animal observations. This journal is part of Record Unit 7250, and it is remarkable. Nearly 200 years old, the journal is composed of notes (in French) and sketches of plants, shells, fish, and mammals. The sketches are not of Audubonian quality, but then again, they presumably were completed in the field and essentially are a snapshot of select specimens. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7250, Box 1, Folder 3, Image SIA2012-6075. From Fishing without a Net.

Topics: Digitizing Nature - Field Books to Fossils