Spencer Baird and Ichthyology at the Smithsonian
Spencer Baird's heavy administrative duties limited his own time in the field, although he did manage to get away each summer for a few weeks at least. The bulk of the Smithsonian's collections, however, were made by others whom Baird recruited and trained. Anyone who approached Baird with an interest in natural history received a cordial reception and encouragement to collect specimens for the Smithsonian. Baird's genius as a manager and a motivator shines through in the work of these men. The collectors were a varied lot, with diverse backgrounds. Some were highly educated, others had little formal training. Some went on to distinguished careers after their Smithsonian service, while others left little record of their lives. All played an important role in the growth of natural history collections, and they deserve to be recognized for their contributions. Here we include a few of those who were involved in government surveys of the western territories in the 1850s and contributed prominently to collection development efforts at the Smithsonian.
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