Read “Guyot Hall under Quarantine” and “The Musical Mineralogist” in The Smilodon

Since the pandemic began, we’ve all had Zoom calls and Zoom meetings. They have their challenges—but what about a Zoom dissertation defense? That was the scenario faced by four Princeton Geosciences Ph.D. candidates this past spring.

It was an honor to be asked to write the cover story for this year’s issue of The Smilodon, the newsletter of the Princeton University Department of Geosciences which traces its history back to 1927.

“Guyot Hall under Quarantine” spotlights the experience of four Princeton Ph.D. candidates who received their doctorates during the COVID-19 lockdown. Taking center stage is their spectacular research—from tracking earthquakes in the most remote reaches of the South Pacific to studying the potential for life on Mars.

In this issue of The Smilodon, it was also a pleasure to write my third article profiling a quirky Princeton mineralogist (the first two, about a Mayor-Mineralogist and Hamilton’s duel doctor, were published in Princeton Alumni Weekly).

“Archibald MacMartin, the Musical Mineralogist” traces the life of a mysterious alumnus who left Princeton with 2,500 exemplary minerals in its collection—as well as founded the first independent music periodical in New York.

You can access a PDF of the issue, featuring both articles, at this link. Thanks for reading, and stay safe and well!

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.

Read Tortoise’s 2017 Issue Now

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Image Courtesy Princeton University Writing Program.

The 2017 issue of ‘Tortoise: A Journal of Writing Pedagogy’ is now online and available. The theme this year is ‘Risk-taking in academic writing.’ Over the past year, my staff reviewed more than 87 academic papers, and we selected 15 for publication, with topics ranging from The Great British Bake Off, to Assassin’s Creed, to the refugee crisis. The issue also includes essays by our staff reflecting on their own writing processes. This publication strives to achieve what few other journals have attempted–to better understand the academic writing process and help provide examples of strong academic writing to students as a novel educational tool.

Read the issue here: https://tortoise.princeton.edu/archive/spring-2017/

 

Watch “Princeton’s Lost Museum” lecture

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Presentation at Princeton Research Day on May 11, 2017 at Frist Theater.

On May 11, 2017, I presented my junior research project, “Princeton’s Lost Museum: Arnold Guyot and the History of American Natural Science.”

Watch the talk by following the link below, courtesy of Georgette Chalker.

https://mediacentral.princeton.edu/media/Princeton%27s+Lost+MuseumA+Arnold+Guyot%27s+E.+M.+Museum+and+the+history+of+American+natural+science/1_ykcgzkin