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Article Archive >> Community

February 11 Audubon Talk Will Focus on Rare "Lady Audubon" Book

PHOTO CAP: The nest and eggs of a Wilson's Thrush


February 11 Audubon Talk Will Focus on Rare "Lady Audubon" Book

The Potomac Valley Audubon Society will sponsor a presentation about a fascinating but little-known 19th century American volume of ornithological illustrations on February 11 at the National Conservation Training Center.
The presenter will be Joy Kiser, former librarian for the National Endowment for the Arts, who has been researching the book for many years.
The program will be held at 7pm in the small auditorium (Room 151) of the Center's Instructional West Building. It will be free and anyone is welcome to attend.
The book Kiser will discuss, "Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio," was published in the small town of Circleville, Ohio, between 1879 and 1886. It was initiated and carried out at first by a talented young amateur, Genevieve Jones, who has been referred to as "America's Lady Audubon."
Jones intended the book as a companion volume to John James Audubon's monumental "Birds of America," which only occasionally and incidentally depicted nests and eggs.
At first, she envisioned illustrating the nests and eggs of all American birds. But her father Nelson, a physician and amateur naturalist who was underwriting the venture, persuaded her to focus on the 130 species of birds that nest in Ohio.
Like Audubon's book, Jones's was sold by subscription and issued in segments.
The first segment was mailed to subscribers in July 1879 and received rave reviews from the editors of leading ornithological journals. This led to new subscriptions, including ones from President Rutherford B. Hayes and then-young Theodore Roosevelt, and the book's future seemed assured.
But the same month, Genevieve was stricken with typhoid fever and died at the age of 32.
After her death, her family decided to complete the book as a memorial to her. Her mother, Virginia, herself an accomplished watercolorist, completed the drawing of the book's illustrations. Genevieve's brother Howard wrote the accompanying texts.
The book was finally completed in 1886. Howard entered a copy in the Columbian Exposition of 1893, where it was awarded a special certificate and bronze medal.
In all, about 100 copies of the work were published. Of these, fewer than half have been located in libraries and private hands. The Smithsonian Institution Libraries has two of them and has devoted a web site to them.
For more information about the book and the Jones family see the Smithsonian website at www.sil.si.edu/ondisplay/nestsandeggs/index.htm.
For more information about the January 14 program or Potomac Valley Audubon, contact Peter Smith at 304-876-1139 or pvsmith@frontiernet.net.
The Potomac Valley Audubon Society is a nonprofit organization, and is a member of the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle and the Combined Federal Campaign.

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