A love affair with birds - and photography

Exploring Minnesota's Natural History

Leaf_Love coverLast week I shared some of my findings from background research on the Bell Museum of Natural History. After finishing the first book consulted, the Annals of the Museum of Natural History, I moved on to book #2: a biography of Thomas Sadler Roberts, the author of the Annals, and Director of the Bell Museum of Natural History from 1919 to 1946. A Love Affair with Birds: The Life of Thomas Sadler Roberts, written by Sue Leaf and published by the University Press, was not only a charming introduction to the life of this passionate bird-lover, but was also the perfect introduction to begin work on Exploring Minnesota's Natural History .

It is fortuitous that this grant project, which will make Roberts's journals, personal and professional papers, and ornithological research digitally accessible, launched at the same time as the release of Leaf's biography. Her book was fresh in my mind as I started to review the first set of image files from the scans of the glass plate negatives from the Bell collection. To date, over 1,000 glass plate negatives have been scanned (with 5,000 more to go!). As I began to routinely enter titles and location data to describe these images of birds and nests in rural locations (Heron's Nest in distance, birds flying, 1898, Heron's Lake), I suddenly realized just what I was looking at.

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