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Jun. 05, 2012

What Audubon Forgot

by Annette Heist

Click to enlarge images
Click on icon in upper right corner of slideshow to enlarge images.
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In a new book, America’s Other Audubon, Joy M. Kiser tells the story of the amateur naturalist and artist Genevieve Jones--a tale that reads much like a Victorian-era melodrama.
 
Born in Ohio in 1847, Jones grew to be a sensitive and anxious young woman prone to headaches and illness. Forbidden by her parents from marrying her true love, she takes a trip to Philadelphia to "come to terms with her disappointment." It's there that she sees some engravings from John James Audubon's The Birds of America.
 
The rest, as they say, is history. Well, natural history, actually. According to Kiser, Jones was a life-long collector of birds' eggs and nests who became frustrated that there were no reference works to aid in identification. Inspired by Audubon, she decides to create a book illustrating what he often did not--the eggs and nests.
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After completing only five illustrations, Jones dies of typhoid fever. Her family and friends pick up the cause, and in spite of more disasters along the way, in 1886 Illustrations of Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio is published.
 
Kiser came across some of the images from the book on her first day on the job at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, but there was scant information on Jones and her family. Thanks to Kiser's research, Jones's story and the lithographs are together in one beautiful book. Click on the slide show above for a sampling.
 
(All images are from America’s Other Audubon by Joy M. Kiser, published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2012.)
About Annette Heist

Annette Heist is a former senior producer for Science Friday.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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