Patrons of Paleontology

Patrons of Paleontology

How Government Support Shaped a Science
Jane P. Davidson
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 08/21/2017
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-02571-5
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In the 19th and early 20th centuries, North American and European governments generously funded the discoveries of such famous paleontologists and geologists as Henry de la Beche, William Buckland, Richard Owen, Thomas Hawkins, Edward Drinker Cope, O. C. Marsh, and Charles W. Gilmore. In Patrons of Paleontology, Jane Davidson explores the motivation behind this rush to fund exploration, arguing that eagerness to discover strategic resources like coal deposits was further fueled by patrons who had a genuine passion for paleontology and the fascinating creatures that were being unearthed. These early decades of government support shaped the way the discipline grew, creating practices and enabling discoveries that continue to affect paleontology today.

Author Bio

Jane P. Davidson is Professor of Art History at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is author of The Bone Sharp: The Life of Edward Drinker Cope, A History of Paleontology Illustration, and Early Modern Supernatural: The Dark Side of European Culture 1400-1700.


“"This slim book, graced with beautiful facsimile reproductions of gorgeous paleontological folio art, is a treasure trove of vertebrate paleontological history, sacred and arcane."”
 — The Quarterly Review of Biology

Patrons of Paleontology is a good introduction to the ambitious individuals and institutions that pursued their own, national, and institutional interests over centuries in a variety of contexts. ”
 — Journal of American History

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Cost of Doing Business
1. The Beginnings of Government Support for Paleontology
2. Eighteenth-century and Early Nineteenth-century Paleontologists and Patrons
3. Developments in Government Support for Paleontology in the United States Between 1830 to About 1880
4. Paleontology in Mid Nineteenth-Century Surveys Outside the United States
5. Government Support for Paleontology in the Late Nineteenth Century and the Turn of the Twentieth Century: 1880 to about 1940
Conclusion: The Chain of Paleontology
Appendix: Glossary of Prominent Patrons and Paleontologists
Annotated Bibliography of Primary Sources
Bibliography of Secondary Sources

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