The first general-interest biography of explorer and botanist Peter Kalm, who traveled in Canada and North America during the mid-1700s to collect plants and animals for the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus.
The Travels of Peter Kalm, Finnish-Swedish Naturalist Through Colonial North America 1748-1751
About the Book
When Peter Kalm first beheld the banks of the Delaware River from a ship’s deck in September 1748, it marked the beginning moment of an historic undertaking to collect plant and animal specimens for the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus. In the course of his travels, Kalm would provide his mentor with nearly 400 dried herbarium specimens, contributing importantly to Linnaeus’s key work, Species plantarum, that established the modern system of botanical nomenclature. He would also be the first scientist to describe Niagara Falls.
Paula Ivaska Robbins’s biography details the travels that took Peter Kalm from colonial Philadelphia through New Jersey and New York and into British and French Canada, based on the explorer’s own writings.
“Today, one can visit the Linnean Society at Burlington House in London and examine the actual Kalm specimens used by Linnaeus to name many of his American plants. For me, it is a bit humbling to touch a leaf or examine a flower collected by Kalm in the wilds of America, brought to Europe, and studied by Linneaus. It is a reminder that most of my knowledge of American plants is based, on a considerable degree, on the efforts of those who lived generations ago in a time and under circumstances I hardly can comprehend. Now, in this book, one can gain a feeling for the man, Peter Kalm, and not just admire the surviving dried plant specimens he labored to bring to the Master.” — from the Preface by James L. Reveal, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland; Honorary Curator, The New York Botanical Garden
About the Author
When Paula Ivaska Robbins learned that a book had never been written about Kalm’s travels for an American audience, despite the fact that his journal is frequently quoted by historians, it seemed the perfect topic for her. Born in the United States of Finnish parents, she had written a previous book about Finnish history, Nights of Summer, Nights of Autumn, and about American history, The Royal Family of Concord. Dr. Robbins earned degrees from Vassar College, Boston University, and the University of Connecticut and taught at the University of Helsinki. Her biography of Jane Colden, America’s first woman botanist, is published by Purple Mountain Press.
7 x 10 inches