Florida Explored: The Philadelphia Connection in Bartram’s Tracks, by Thomas Peter Bennett | Mercer University Press, 2020 | 544 pages | Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0881466935; $40
Dr. Thomas Peter Bennett, biologist, author, scholar, professor, and SGHS member brings his passion for and in-depth knowledge of American natural history to his latest book, Florida Explored: The Philadelphia Connection in Bartram’s Tracks. His volume is based on his work at Harvard University, Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences (president, 1976-1986), Florida State University, University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History (director,1986-1996), and the South Florida Museum as well as his own extensive travels following Bartram’s tracks.
Through the lens and interpretation of members and correspondents of America’s first research natural history museum—Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences—Bennett shares the scientific explorations of Florida for almost three centuries. Early naturalists, including Thomas Say, John James Audubon, John LeConte, Asa Gray, Francis Harper, among others, were inspired to explore Florida in the footpaths of William Bartram, naturalist, artist, and author of the famous Travels (1791), who was elected to the Academy just after its founding in 1812 by his students. Bartram and those plant collectors and other naturalists who came after him explored, collected, and recorded the splendor of Florida’s flora and fauna, adding to the study of Florida’s natural history and ecosystems.