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University Libraries - John Bachman Manuscript

John Bachman Manuscript

Collection Description

John Bachman is best remembered for his collaborative work with John James Audubon on the magnificentQuadrupeds of North America(1845-48), which together with Audubon's Birds of Americarepresents the highest achievement of nineteenth-century American natural history. The close association between Bachman and Audubon began in October 1831 when Audubon spent a month at Bachman's home in Charleston, South Carolina. Bachman had moved to Charleston in 1815 at the age of twenty-five and would remain a resident of that city until his death nearly sixty years later. In 1832 Bachman and Audubon explored the Florida coast together and in the following year conducted joint studies in Labrador. Though he is not named as a co-author of Audubon's Birds, it is very likely that Bachman's original research was incorporated into the text volumes that were later issued under the title Ornithological Biography.

 The autograph manuscript lecture has many internal changes and differences from the article Bachman later published in theAmerican Journal of Science and Arts 30 (July 1836) 81-100, edited by Yale University's Benjamin Silliman.


The first paragraph of the Bachman manuscript:

"The Migration of Birds, has been a subject of great interest to naturalists for ages past. The mysterious appearance & disappearance of many species at different periods of the year — the circumstances of many of them having never been seen in their Migrations — the remote situations to which they return, even beyond the knowledge of Man — the accounts which have from time to time been published of the swallows having been found in great numbers in caves & hollow trees — in Lakes and Ponds — of the common Rail or Lora (Rallus Carolinus L.) having been found in gutters and hollow banks — the sudden appearance of some birds in the spring after one or two days of warm weather & the equally sudden disappearance on the first cold day all have condensed to create many vague & superstitious notions in the minds of the uninformed & have often left the intelligent student of nature in perplexity and doubt."