A series of presentations at the University of Georgia will mark the 250th anniversary of the natural history expedition of John and William Bartram in Colonial Georgia.
Based on John Bartram’s journal account of their travels, this celebration marks their sojourn in Georgia between Sept. 3 and Oct. 8, 1765.
“John Bartram’s journal of his time in Georgia reveals a man interested in far more than botany,” said Dorinda Dallmeyer, who is leading the UGA observance. “His descriptions run the gamut from weather and mosquitoes to life in the backwoods and in Savannah. Fossils and millstones are as noteworthy as the settlers’ struggle to cultivate silk and herd their free-range cattle.”
John Bartram was a third-generation Pennsylvania Quaker with a curiosity and reverence for nature as well as a passion for scientific inquiry. In 1765, Bartram was appointed the “Royal Botanist” by King George III and, with his son William, set out for South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida on a collecting trip that would last two years.
A companion exhibit at the UGA Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries features original manuscripts, engravings, and maps from the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library as well as specimens from the Georgia Natural History Museum. The exhibit will be on display through Dec. 23.
All events are free and open to the public. A complete schedule can be found at: http://www.libs.uga.edu/hargrett/digital/bartram/index.html. Unless otherwise noted, all events take place at the special collections building, which is open free to the public Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. Saturdays.
Opening the observance August 22 at 7 p.m. will be actor and playwright J.D. Sutton who brings William Bartram to life, sharing tales of his adventures and his awe-struck wonder of the mountains, cascading streams and remarkable beauty of the southern states.
“Traveling from the wilderness of Florida to the mountains of North Carolina and the banks of the Mississippi, Bartram took extensive notes of what he saw and the people he encountered, leaving us a remarkable time-capsule of our country’s early frontier,” Sutton said.
The audience will have an opportunity to ask “Mr. Bartram” questions as part of the performance, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Russell Special Collections Building. A reception and gallery tour will follow.
This theatrical performance illuminates Bartram’s encounters with Indians, his vivid descriptions of plants and animals, and the wonders of nature he experienced.
The presentation will be followed by a reception and gallery tour led by Mary Ellen Brooks, curator emerita of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library.