Read “Princeton’s Lost Museum: Arnold Guyot’s E.M. Museum” in the Princeton Historical Review

Within the Princeton University community, it is relatively well-known that Nassau Hall, the university’s flagship building, was once the site of a Revolutionary War battle and served as the capitol building of the United States. It is far less recognized as the former home of one of the first natural science museums in America, much less the second museum in the world to ever display a dinosaur skeleton.

In the middle of the 19th century, the Swiss-American geographer Arnold Guyot—one of the discoverers of the last Ice Age—began a lengthy and influential tenure as a director of the geology and geography departments at the then-named College of New Jersey (renamed Princeton in 1896).

At Princeton, he also became the first curator of the E. M. Museum of Geology and Archaeology, which was housed in Nassau Hall. Before the E.M. Museum, most natural science museums in the United States were eclectic collections of curios without any organization, much less an overarching method or worldview. Guyot, however, designed his museum so that it could demonstrate to a visitor ‘the history of the world at a glance’—in a manner similar to the presentation of his image-centric textbook, Physical Geography, published in 1873

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An illustration of naturalist Alexander von Humboldt from the first pages of Arnold Guyot’s popular 1873 textbook, Physical Geography. (Courtesy Google Books & Princeton University Library)

This museum housed a surprising array of artifacts—from Japanese swords to classical statues, from precious minerals to portraits of the Founding Fathers. And yet, the exhibits maintained a clear organization, one that emphasized a Manifest Destiny-view of the universe.

To learn more about this curious institution, read my history article, “Princeton’s Lost Museum: Arnold Guyot’s E.M. Museum and the Great Juncture of American Natural History Museums in the Late 19th Century” in the Fall 2017 issue of the Princeton Historical Review, available in PDF format. Follow this link and find the article on pages 22-50.

The featured photo of this post is from the Mudd Manuscript Library, and whose citation follows: Pach Brothers, E.M. Museum of Geology and Archaeology, Photograph, ca. 1886, Box MP42, Item 1256, Princeton University Library. Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library.

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Read “Southwestern fantasy: John Gaw Meem, Frank Lloyd Wright and Pueblo Revival architecture” in The Taos News

New Mexico is known for its Pueblo Revival architecture—rounded walls, Adobe finishes, and vigas (logs used as beams). The colorful town plazas built in this style evoke the Spanish colonial epoch and the heritage of Pueblo Native American architecture; they attract tourists and capture the imagination of those who witness them.

Yet the Pueblo Revival architectural style is a relatively recent invention, one that gained popularity in the early decades of the 20th century. It was also a design movement that was in many ways the work of one man: an architect named John Gaw Meem, who designed much of Santa Fe and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque during his long career. It’s a story that also features famous architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolf Schindler, and it’s an article published in the Raices (Roots) issue of The Taos News’ annual Tradiciones publication, which celebrates the culture and history of the Taos area.

Read the article (“Southwestern fantasy: John Gaw Meem, Frank Lloyd Wright and the emergence of Pueblo Revival architecture in New Mexico”) on page 14 of the ISSUU version of the publication, embedded in the webpage below or available online at this link. Many thanks to Special Sections Editor Scott Gerdes, designer Karin Eberhardt, and photographer Katherine Egli that helped see this article to print.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read “A trip around ‘Ancestral Circle'” in The Taos News

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Myself, gazing at Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Photo by Jesse Moya, Courtesy The Taos News. 

Last month, I had the chance to visit two spectacular Ancestral Pueblo (formerly known as Anasazi) ruin complexes—Aztec Ruins and Chaco Culture National Historical Park in Northern New Mexico. I chronicled my experience visiting the two parks and the town of Aztec, New Mexico in this week’s travel section of The Taos News. You can read about the stunning vistas, ruins, and locales in my feature story, “A trip around ‘Ancestral Circle’: Aztec Ruins National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park and the big empty in between,” available on The Taos News website.

 

 

“In the Rearview” history series: 10 weeks of the fascinating and strange in Taos, NM

Taos, New Mexico, is not an ordinary American town. In many ways, it is anything but ordinary. A mountain town that is adjacent to one of the oldest continuously inhabited Native communities in the United States, an early site of Spanish settlement in the 1600s, and the home of prominent characters of the Wild West, Taos’ history is staggering. So it comes as no surprise that many interesting things have happened there over the years.

This past summer, as an Editorial Intern with The Taos News, I was tasked with creating a new weekly history column. Sifting through the newspaper’s archives, each week I found a prominent (or more often, weird) event from that week’s stories from 10, 25, and 50 years ago. In this endeavor, I uncovered such varied events as the mysterious “Taos Hum,” some macabre murder cases, archaeological discoveries, Mt. Everest rescues, deadly carnival rides, the arrival of the hippies, and many more. Here, you can take a look at some of the stories I dug up in the ten-article run.


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In the early 1990s, a mysterious low-frequency noise called the ‘Taos Hum’ began irritating Taos residents. The sound is still a mystery. Photo Courtesy The Taos News.

A thrilling mountain rescue, an investigation into the ‘Taos Hum’ and reactions to the Tijerina raid” June 22, 2017

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In the 1990s, this French cyclist biked through Taos as part of his often dangerous and thrilling globe-spanning journey. Photo courtesy The Taos News.

A terrifying lightning strike, a French cyclist on a globe-trotting journey and first contact with ‘the hippies’” June 29, 2017

A juncture in the Cabresto Dam saga, a curious anatomy class and an esteemed visitor from Spain” July 7, 2017

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In the 1990s, a local woman was mysteriously murdered. The case to find her killer was fraught with controversy and mystery. Photo courtesy The Taos News.

A snail-inflicted itch, a grisly murder and the return of the hippies” July 13, 2017

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Archaeologists outside the D.H. Lawrence Ranch investigate the ruins of ancient ‘pit-dwellers.’ Photo courtesy The Taos News.

An Amtrak incident, an author’s milestone birthday and an archaeological excavation” July 20, 2017

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In the 1960s, a fleet of Navion aircraft visited Taos for a ‘fly-in’—the largest assembly of aircraft in the town at that time. Photo courtesy The Taos News. 

A speedy search and rescue, a deadly carnival ride and a fleet of aerial visitors” July 27, 2017

A chocolate-obsessed bear, op-ed against a missile defense project and a mischievous land dispute” August 3, 2017

A Gorge Bridge inspection, ancient petroglyphs and Taos High School’s delayed 1967 opening” August 10, 2017

An Earthship bonanza, a missing girl and a snobby opera review” August 18, 2017

The legal saga behind a horrifying murder, B-1 bombers and the restoration of San Francisco de Asís Church” August 24, 2017

While that concluded my ten-article run, there’s still more stories I will have coming out of Taos, New Mexico. Stay tuned!

Read “New hydroponic greenhouse in San Cristobal grows ‘supercharged’ produce” in The Taos News

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Credit: Harrison Blackman for The Taos News

After the Fukushima disaster spread radiation to the North American Pacific coastline, two Alaskans moved to Taos County. They started a hydroponic farm, and now they’re growing tomatoes with sugar concentrations that are almost off-the-charts. Curiously, their customers report what might be considered ‘miraculous’ results. Read on and decide for yourself. My latest feature for The Taos News. Find it here.

Read “The Plague of Taos?: A History of Plague in New Mexico” in The Taos News

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Image Courtesy The Taos News

New Mexico has a problem with bubonic plague. It first arrived in the state in 1949, but at the time, not many imagined that it would never leave. In 2017, there have already been three cases of plague in humans. But the plague had a long journey to New Mexico. Read my feature story published in The Taos News, “The Plague of Taos?: A History of Bubonic Plague in New Mexico,” here.