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1 October 2002 The 1817 Florida Expedition of The Academy of Natural Sciences
Thomas Peter Bennett
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The 1817 Florida Expedition was the first major privately funded collecting endeavor of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. The Expedition was financed and organized by the newly elected president, William Maclure and included an Academy founder and Curator, Thomas Say, Vice President George Ord and recently elected member Titian Peale. The focus of this paper is on the scientific results of the Expedition. This includes specimens collected, presentation of results through oral reports, publication in the newly (1817) founded Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences as well as other journals, and the preservation of the collections and their use in research at later dates. The coupling of fieldwork, presentation, and publication with primary specimen data being made available for future study established a model for American natural history museums based on European precursors. In addition to establishing many new genera and species, the Expedition extended the observations of William Bartram on several organisms and supported a solid foundation for the new American sciences of conchology (malacology) and carcinology.

“…here we are thus far upon our journey to that promised land, not overflowing with milk & honey it is true, but abounding in insects &c. which are unknown, & if they remain unknown I am determined it shall not be my fault …”

Thomas Say to John Melsheimer from Washington, December 12, 18171

“Our plan now is to ascend as far as convenient the river St. Johns, pursuing pretty much the track of Bartram my excellent & ingenious relative: but whether or not we shall go further than he did will entirely depend on circumstances …”

Thomas Say to Jacob Gilliams from St. Marys, Georgia, January 30, 18182

Thomas Peter Bennett "The 1817 Florida Expedition of The Academy of Natural Sciences," Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 152(1), 1-21, (1 October 2002).[0001:HFTFEO]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 October 2002
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