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Happy Birthday, John Burroughs!

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Today would be the 176th birthday of noted naturalist John Burroughs (1837-1921), close friend of Theodore Roosevelt, and a key voice in the early 20th-century conservation movement.

John Burroughs

Naturalist and writer John Burroughs


A Museum hall dedicated to the naturalist lies tucked to the side of the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians, on the Museum's first floor. (The John Burroughs Society has been housed at the Museum since 1921.)

Gateway Burroughs

Among many other mementos is a photograph of President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Edith Roosevelt on a 1903 visit to Slabsides, Burroughs's rustic cabin in New York. 

Slabsides, John Burroughs's Catskills home

From a book published in 1901, a photograph of John Burroughs's cabin, Slabsides, near the Hudson River in Ulster County, New York

Project Gutenberg


Earlier that year, Burroughs toured Yellowstone with Roosevelt at the President's request.

TR and John Burroughs at Yellowstone

Theodore Roosevelt and John Burroughs viewing the geyser Old Faithful, in Yellowstone, in 1903.

© AMNH Library/Image #236451


Roosevelt called John Burroughs "Oom John," using the Dutch term for uncle. They shared a passion for the study of nature and joined in a public campaign against nature writers who took liberties with the facts, the so-called "nature fakers."

See more images of John Burroughs on Pinterest here.

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2012 Rotunda, the Member magazine.

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