Illuminates the wealth and significance of antebellum natural history studies in South Carolina and the state's natural diversity
South Carolina Naturalists assembles for the first time essays, lectures, poems, letters, and journals by thirty-one naturalists of colonial and antebellum South Carolina. The collection illuminates the wealth of natural history studies in South Carolina and documents the state's natural diversity.
At the conclusion of a conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in Charleston in 1850, Dr. A. A. Gould commented, "In Science, South Carolina has stood almost alone in the South." Indeed, many of the first and best studies of North American flora and fauna were conducted in the Palmetto State. The intellectual climate in Charleston and Columbia and the rich biological diversity within South Carolina, ranging from coastal wetlands to mountain forests, encouraged the study of natural history from the first days of settlement.
The period covered by this anthology witnessed enormous changes in scientific inquiry and purpose, and the entries vary widely in style and theme. While the naturalists show a deep concern for scientific accuracy, most natural histories before 1860 were written for an educated, general readership and incorporated common names, personal anecdotes, and literary references. This accessible volume demonstrates that the entries read as easily today as they did in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
South Carolina Naturalists examines a generally neglected part of South Carolina's past and invites all readers to partake of the joy and curiosity of discovering the state's natural history.
David Taylor is an associate professor of English at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. After receiving his B.A. and M.A. from the University of North Texas, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee in 1994. His research for this anthology was conducted over a two-year period as a Summer Research Fellow at the Institute for Southern Studies, University of South Carolina.
"David Taylor's anthology of early naturalists in South Carolina is an excellent addition to the history of our state. Our rich heritage in natural history, as seen through the eyes of selected authors, gives us pause and helps us appreciate the genuine blessings we share in this land."-—David H. Rembert, Jr., University of South Carolina
"What a marvelous contribution: in one volume the writings of South Carolina naturalists from the 18th and 19th centuries. With few exceptions the selections are not easily accessible to the general reader. These writings constitute a part of our rich heritage which many citizens are striving to preserve today."—Allen Stokes, Director, South Caroliniana Library