Women in the Field: America's Pioneering Women Naturalists

Marcia Bonta, Author Texas A&M University Press $0 (299p) ISBN 978-0-89096-467-5
The lives of these 25 women, many of whom were born well before the turn of the century, bring to mind an old-fashioned word: gumption. Unfazed by the hazards of their chosen careers, they simply ``went at it,'' as entomologist Anna Botsford Comstock said, ``with their usual daring on untried paths,'' fueled in many cases by nothing more than an abiding curiosity about the natural world and a passion for collecting. Ynes Mexia, a ``botanical adventurer,'' traveled some 3000 miles down the Amazon in only 10 years and on one trip alone gathered 33,000 specimens. Annie Montague Alexander, whom Bonta ( Appalachian Spring ) calls ``a quintessential naturalist,'' was raised on Maui by an adventurous father who encouraged her interest in the natural world. Alexander traveled extensively in Alaska and California, and in 1947 at the age of 79, set off for Baja to collect botanical specimens. Divided into sections on naturalists, ecologists, ornithologists, botanists and entomologists, with an abbreviated biographical format, the book occasionally reads like a catalogue, making one wish for longer, more detailed studies on these remarkable women. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-89096-489-7
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