Merriam papers reveal ode to an everyday mammal

Written by Greg Borman, Museum Archival Assistant

While searching for the date ranges of materials in numerous folders that make up the MVZ Archives’ Clinton Hart Merriam papers, I found myself going through correspondence, manuscripts, and notes relating to a wide variety of species. Basically, things that commonly make up a collection here at the MVZ Archives. What I didn’t count on finding, however, was an ode to a creature that we all might see on any given day.

squirrel poemIt’s not immediately clear who the author is, but the date written on the small piece of paper indicates that it’s from 1876. Our best sleuthing efforts won’t likely reveal whether this was a poem that Merriam liked or that he wrote himself. In any case, I was pleased to find this writing sample among an assortment of scientific inquiry. Merriam (1855-1942) lived a long life devoted to natural history, and studied at Yale and Columbia. He served as president of the American Society of Naturalists, Anthropological Society, Biological Society of Washington, Linnaean Society of New York, and the American Society of Mammalogists. Merriam also was one of the original founders of the National Geographic Society and acted as Chief of the U.S. Biological Survey for 25 years, doing extensive field work in every U.S. state as well as abroad. In addition, he counted Theodore Roosevelt among his circle of friends.

It’s refreshing to think that, during a busy and important life, Merriam paused to consider the poetic aspects of such an everyday animal. This is just one example of the curiosities that you can find in the MVZ Archives collections.


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One Response to Merriam papers reveal ode to an everyday mammal

  1. mkoo says:

    Interesting find in Merriam’s papers, Greg. A google search on the poem’s contents actually reveals NOTHING! So maybe it’s a hitherto unknown CH Merriam original. A hidden gem.

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