The new Mark Catesby Centre at the University of South Carolina brings attention to the innovative work and influence of 17th-century English naturalist Mark Catesby.
An artist, scientist and explorer, Catesby (1683 – 1749) spent years traveling on foot through the wilderness of Virginia, Georgia, the Carolinas and the Bahamas. Supported by some wealthy Fellows of the Royal Society in London, he collected plant and animal specimens, and he wrote about and sketched those wildlife wonders. The result was his monumental Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, first published in London in 1731 – 43. The two volumes included 220 plates of birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, mammals and plants
“It was the first published account of the flora and fauna of North America, and it provided an important model for ornithologists and scientists, including John James Audubon, who followed in Catesby’s footsteps about a century later,” said Catesby Centre Director David Elliott.
The Centre is now part of UofSC Libraries, where the University’s first, second and third edition copies of Natural History are housed.
“The Catesby Centre creates the opportunity to highlight the University’s strong holdings in Catesby and in natural history, in general,” said Tom McNally, UofSC Libraries Dean. “It will interest students and other researchers who study any number of disciplines, including the history of science, colonialism and botany. It also provides an outreach opportunity to introduce Catesby to K-12 students and their teachers, and to the wider community.”