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October 25 '1883

My Dear Sir: I was much gratified in receiving your letter yesterday, and learning the continued zeal manifested in the study of Natural History. To familiarise yourself in its details, you could not do better than to visit Dr. Rutland, himself the best general Naturalist we have among us. I have often heard him speak of his desire to have you with him and to give you practical instruction in various matters. Under his guidance you will soon be able to make minute investigations into the different departments of Natural History.

You must not suppose however, that much preliminary study is necessary to carry on this matter of Natural History. After all, you have the great Book of Nature from which to learn your daily lessons. Books by Naturalists are simply the record of their studies in the same work: and every original labour goes back to the original data after all: You only need know how and what to observe: after that your own perceptions will gradually lead you up to the Mysteries of the subject.

There are a thousand points in which you will have a grand field for discovery. Bear in mind that the living animal in its various relations is more interesting than the dead one in alcohol. The specimen enables us to pursue Zoological and Anatomical investigations and to fix with precision the species! And these do not constitute the [biography: underline] of the

Last edit 3 months ago by Vishesh
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animal which can only be learned from actual examination in a living state. I would urgently advise you to commence at once: get a note book, and whenever you observe any trait or peculiarity in any animal, write it down in black and white. No matter if it appears trivial and ordinary: there will be no harm in writing out the account, even merely as an exercise in English composition. You cannot fail by using eye and hand, of recording something of interest. We really know nothing, or next to it of the habits of our commonest animals. Some of the most delightful books in out language, are the simple jottings down of every day occurrences in the country. Among these I will mention, Whites Natural History of Selborne: Knapps Journal of a Naturalist. fr England, and Miss [Corpey?] Rural Hours. [Joelmary?] Rambles of a Naturalist for our own country. You can do a great deal in regard to our fishes, by watching their habits and manners. At what season of the year does each species spawn: where are the eggs laid.- how large.- how many: does either sex watch the eggs or young: what kind of water does each inhabit: how deep do they swim. What changes do they undergo at different seasons of year: &c. So with the reptiles.- when do the snakes moult: do they lay eggs or bring forth young alive: do they go in water, habitually, or at all: how about climbing trees; Then the Salamander: do they copulate: where do they lay their eggs: &c. What kind of homes do the different quadrupeds make, moles, rats &c.- are they vertical, horizontal, circular &c. These and a thousand other points you can look into and determine only keep your eyes open, and dont be afraid of writing down anything.

Last edit 4 months ago by acmwitz
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I shall look with much interest for your new collection of things which you announce. Send them as soon as you have got all the specimens for the season. Try and secure a good many minnows, & shiners, of which several quarts may be sent without disadvantage. Among those sent already by you were several species, of only one specimen each. The most interesting was a species shaped somewhat thus, with the fin on the back placed far back, [fish drawing] and with scales right on top of the head, as well as small teeth in the jaws. There are [strike through] various kinds of this group with you. I am glad you have another of the snakes. The new one is that, with very rough scales, and a row of round dark spots on each side of the belly plates, and about for rows on the back & sides. I would be very glad indeed to have the small quadrupeds in alcohol. Collect all species, common or rare: field mice, moles, rats, gophers, weasels: squirrels, minks &c. Cannot you try to skin some of these [strike through] and preserve dry with arsenic? In the pamplhet you will find full directions. You should also practise skinning birds, some kinds of which I would like to have, as several species of ducks & geese. I wish very much, that next spring when the birds begin to nest, you would collect their eggs, as extensively as possible. Dr. Brewer of Baston will commence very shortly the publication of a great work on the eggs of American birds, for which he wishes fresh and authentic material. In the spring, when the fish

Last edit 3 months ago by Jen_Aaron94
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commence their breeding operations. It will be desirable to collect all the species over again. Many are so different then as to appear different species. I hope you may procure a small net for this season, if in no other way I must try to send you one if I can get any in by that time. Please give my best respects to your father, and ask him if I can do anything for him here. After the session of Congress, commences and I can get a hold of any one to frank documents, I will send some to him. Write to me as often as you please. I will always be glad to have your letters and to answer them. Any information or assistance I can give you [illegible] of course be most cheerfully rendered. Very sincerely yours [Spencer J. Baird?] Robert W. Kennicott Esq. West Northfield Cook Co Ill

I send the printed label this time. Send the things by Express. The high wines answer well for preservation, if the specimens are not too much condensed. Better pack the specimens in layers with intervals of cotton or cloth. See that the vessel is perfectly full of packings, even before putting in alcohol

Last edit 4 months ago by acmwitz
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