Contents tagged with william stimpson
Created: 10/22/2015 Updated: 10/24/2017
Halloween is just a week away, but if you still don’t have a costume ready to go, don’t worry. We have some scientifically-focused suggestions that date back to the early days of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, many of which you can recreate just by visiting a costume store, thrift store, or your own closet!
If you’re the outdoors type, rugged Academy founder Robert Kennicott is your man. To recreate his look, grab:
- A heavy, long wool coat
- A western style or oxford shirt
- A neck scarf or bandana
- Dark pants
- A woven sash and garters
- Moccasins or other soft shoes
- Unkempt hair and facial hair
Finish the look by toting around an animal pelt or, perhaps, a plush owl (bonus points if it is a Western screech owl, one of Kennicott’s scientific namesakes). Learn more about Robert Kennicott's work and legacy here.
Feeling a bit more refined? Academy founder and director William Stimpson is your man! Embrace the refined naturalist look by putting together the following ensemble:
- A frock coat or formal coat
- A collared shirt
- A floppy bow tie or cravat
- A formal vest
- A pair of old-fashioned spectacles
- Dark trousers
- A mustache
Finish the look by grabbing an aquatic invertebrate friend or two, perhaps a mollusk or crustacean, since Stimpson devoted much of his life to cataloging and researching aquatic invertebrates. Learn more about this work here.
Elizabeth Emerson Atwater
An important woman in the history of the Academy, and the history of botany, Elizabeth Emerson Atwater is the ideal subject for those who love plants and Victorian fashion. To create her look, assemble the following:
- Long-sleeve, Victorian style dress
- Victorian hairstyle – a low, parted bun is probably the easiest to attempt
Be sure to bring along a scrapbook of some plant clippings or pressings to complete the look! Did you know that Atwater embraced botany because it was one of the scientific activities that a "proper" lady could participate in? Learn more about her legacy here.
Howard K. Gloyd
Love all things reptile and amphibian? Then herpetologist and Academy director Howard K. Gloyd is the perfect costume for you! And the look is not very difficult to put together! Simply grab:
- A Panama hat
- A safari or cargo vest
- A white oxford shirt
- Tall hiking boots
- A bow tie
- A mustache
Gloyd spent his life researching herps of all kinds, so having a rubber snake or two in tow will help complete the look! Learn more about the species that are named after Gloyd here.
Created: 2/10/2015 Updated: 8/2/2016
Although February 14 is recognized as Valentine’s Day, it’s a special day to the Nature Museum for another reason. It’s also the birthday of William Stimpson, a major force in the creation and establishment of the Chicago Academy of Sciences.
Born on February 14, 1832 in Boston, Stimpson seems to have been born with a love of nature. By the age of 14, he’d begun independently exploring geology and invertebrates. Despite this love of the natural world, Stimpson found himself pushed toward engineering by his father who believed there was no money to be had in the scientific field. While Stimpson begrudgingly obeyed his wishes for a couple of years, by 1850 he was studying under the prodigious biologist/geologist Louis Agassiz at Cambridge. Two years later, he was appointed naturalist of the North Pacific Exploring Expedition. He was only 20 years old. He remained with the Expedition for four years, collecting 5,300 specimens and making special notes and drawings of over 3,000 specimens. You can read his report on the crustacea collected during the expedition here.
William Stimpson, Nautilus Drawing, US Pacific Expedition, Aug 14, 1853
Upon his return, he began studying at the Smithsonian, later becoming the head of the invertebrates department. It was here where he met Robert Kennicott, the naturalist who’d begun to make a name for himself by cataloging the fauna of his home state of Illinois. In 1865, Stimpson was widely recognized as the leading American authority on aquatic invertebrates. It was at this time that his old pal Robert Kennicott called on him to join the Chicago Academy of Sciences.
Kennicott was about to leave on expedition to Alaska and appointed Stimpson to take his place as Curator of the Academy, as well as Academy Secretary. Stimpson not only brought a new energy to this role, he also brought much of the collection he built during the course of his own personal research, as well as what he collected while with the Smithsonian. When Kennicott died while on expedition, Stimpson was elected to take his place as Director of the Academy. Through Stimpson’s leadership, the Academy’s collection grew to be the fourth largest in the country, with only the Smithsonian’s collection as its rival in importance. Sadly, it was lost during the Great Chicago Fire – a loss that Stimpson never fully recovered from.
Stimpson died of tuberculosis just nine months after the Great Fire. Although he had been working to rebuild the collection, he was in poor health, and the loss of his life’s work weighed on him heavily. Despite the incredible loss, Stimpson never regretted his decision to join the Academy. In a letter to his secretary he said:
But had I lost twice as much, I shall never regret coming to Chicago, for I have found there noble and generous friends, not only to myself, but friends to science and such as no other city in America can boast; and of more value to me than worldly possessions will be the memory of the friendly experiences I have had with yourself and the other trustees and the friends of the Academy, while we together built up a monument which, though now leveled with the dust, will long live in scientific history.
Josiah Seymour Currey, Chicago: Its History and Its Builders…: 157View Comments
Alfred Goldsborough Mayer, “Biographical Memoir of William Stimpson”, Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences: 419-433
Special Publication – Chicago Academy of Sciences, Volumes 1 & 2
“William Stimpson”, Spencer Baird and Icthyology at the Smithsonian
Created: 1/13/2014 Updated: 8/9/2016
Group of men interested in natural sciences begins to meet in offices of fellow member, Dr. Edmund Andrews. Other original members were: Dr. James V.Z. Blaney, Dr. Nathan S. Davis, Sr., James W. Freer, C.A. Helmuth, Dr. Hosmer A. Johnson, Henry Parker, J. Young Scammon, Dr. Franklin Scammon, Richard K. Swift, Joseph D. Webster, Eliphalet W. Blatchford, and Henry W. Zimmerman.
“Chicago Academy of Natural Sciences” officially founded only eleven years after the Smithsonian Institution and 36 years before the Field Museum of Natural History.
“A definite organization was completed at a meeting held January 13, 1857…[and] officers elected”.
Academy incorporated into Illinois state law as “The Chicago Academy of Sciences.”
“A majority of the members of the Academy, acting in accordance with a vote of the Academy, have incorporated themselves under the title of The Chicago Academy of Sciences….”
February 22 - Meeting held to discuss creation of natural history museum with Robert Kennicott’s specimens as the “core collection”; resolution adopted by attendees to create a museum and to appoint a committee to act as trustee of any funds raised.
March 23 - Robert Kennicott appointed “Curator of the Museum” by the Board of Trustees.
April 13 - Committee appointed on February 22 turned into the Board of Trustees through an amendment to the Academy’s constitution.
January 1 - The Academy opened as a museum to the public in rooms in the Metropolitan Block located at 134 North LaSalle Street.
February 16 - Act of Incorporation passed by the Illinois House and Senate for the Academy.
William Stimpson became the Curator and Secretary of the Academy replacing Robert Kennicott who was leaving Chicago on an expedition to Alaska. Kennicott met Stimpson while working in Washington, D.C. as both men worked for the Smithsonian Institution.
April 7 - Board of Trustees elects Robert Kennicott to the office of “Director of the Academy” while he is in Alaska on his exploration trip.
May 13 - Robert Kennicott dies in Alaska on the Nulato River.
June 7 - Fire in the Metropolitan Block where the Academy rented space for exhibits damaged the museum’s holdings, including specimens and library materials.
November 12 - William Stimpson elected as Director of the Academy.
Land is purchased on the corner of Wabash and Van Buren streets for a new museum building.
Academy opens in new rented spaces on Thirtieth Street between Indiana and Prairie Avenues.
Chicago Microscopical Club (State Microscopical Society of Illinois) is organized as an independent organization but maintains close affiliation with Chicago Academy of Sciences through 1950s, using Academy spaces for meetings and education programs. Many of the founders of the Club are also founders of Academy, such as Dr. Hosmer A. Johnson and Dr. Edmund Andrews..
The Academy’s collection is estimated to be the fourth largest in the country.
October 8-10 - The Great Chicago Fire destroys much of Chicago; the Academy’s building and holdings are decimated, including materials housed in a special “fire-proof” vault. Apparently a keystone fell through the top of the vault during the fire, thus creating an opening and allowing the fire into the vault.
May 26 - Director, Dr. William Stimpson, dies nine months after the Great Fire. It is thought that he died of heartbreak as he lost his life’s work in the fire, stored in the Academy’s “fire-proof” vault.
Academy moved into the Interstate Exposition Building on the lake front. This was a temporary structure that later was demolished to build the Chicago Art Institute.
Real estate tycoon, Matthew Laflin, donated $75,000 to construct a new museum. The building was to be named the “Matthew Laflin Memorial.” Total funds available for the new building were $100,000; the Laflin donation represented 75% of the total costs of the building. $25,000 received from the Board of Commissioners of Lincoln Park.
October 10 - The cornerstone for the Academy’s new building is laid.
October 30 - The World’s Columbian Exposition closes and many exhibits of plants, fossils, and animals originally displayed at the Exposition remain. Academy Board of Trustee, Edward Ayer, proposes accepting and incorporating these specimens into the Academy’s collection, but other Trustees are wary, citing the need to quickly launch the massive fund drive needed to quickly finish the building as well as transporting and finding housing for the specimens. Ayer resigns from the Board and turns to Marshall Field for the funds to build a new museum with Field’s name, ultimately becoming the Field Museum of Natural History.
October 31 - The Academy’s new building is dedicated and opens in Lincoln Park. The institution’s name, “Chicago Academy of Sciences,” was engraved on the front arch accompanied by the dedication of the building, “Matthew Laflin Memorial.” This building was referred to internally as the “Laflin Building.” The building was originally intended to be the north wing of a larger museum building with additions to be constructed in the future.
Chicago Academy of Sciences circa 1894
Amber KingView Comments
Assistant Collections Manager