Writer John Burroughs was born on April 3, 1837, in Roxbury, New York. Like Henry David Thoreau before him, Burroughs gained a wide following for his observations, in the form of nature essays, of the world around him. Burroughs published his first collection of nature writings, Wake-Robin (excerpted in In the Catskills), in 1871. Among his best known works are Birds and Poets (1877), Locusts and Wild Honey (1879), Signs and Seasons (1886), and Ways of Nature (1905).
…man made the city, and after he became sufficiently civilized, not afraid of solitude, and knew on what terms to live with nature, God promoted him to life in the country…
In the Catskills, Selections…, by John Burroughs. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1910. The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920.
In 1899, Burroughs joined a host of luminaries, including fellow naturalist John Muir and painter Louis Agassiz Fuertes, on a scientific expedition along the Alaska coast. Burroughs’ writing is one of several items featured in The Harriman Alaska Expedition: Chronicles and Souvenirs May to August 1899, a private souvenir album created by the members of the expedition.
- To learn more about Burroughs and the historical context of his career, go to In the Catskills or view the Documentary Chronology of Selected Events in the Development of the American Conservation Movement, 1847-1920.
- The Harriman Alaska Expedition set forth to increase America’s understanding of the Alaska region’s natural history and native inhabitants. An album of photographs taken by various members of the expedition is presented in Meeting of Frontiers. This bilingual English-Russian digital collection tells the story of American and Russian exploration and settlement of that region and the meeting of the Russian-American frontier in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Several of the pictures documenting the area’s cultural diversity were shot by soon-to-be-renowned photographer Edward S. Curtis.
- Search on Thoreau or Muir in The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920 to find more examples of the American tradition of nature writing.