Every self-published author hopes to be discovered. But in the case of amateur naturalist Genevieve Jones’s 1886 illustrated book, Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio, which was completed by her family after she died suddenly of typhoid fever, it took more than a century. This month Princeton Architectural Press is publishing America’s Other Audubon by Joy M. Kiser, which includes all 68 lithographs from Jones’s book and its field notes together with the story behind the book, which Kiser found in 1995 at the library of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where she worked.
Inspired by John James Audubon’s Birds of America paintings, which she saw at the Centennial World’s Fair in Philadelphia in 1876, Jones wanted to create a book illustrating the nests and eggs that he left out. Her family used up their savings to print 90 copies of the book, which they sold by subscription to readers like Theodore Roosevelt and Rutherford B. Hayes, as well as libraries. At the time it was described as “the most beautiful book ever produced in America,” although very few Americans had ever seen it.