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Spooky Science: Dress like the Chicago Academy of Sciences founders this Halloween!

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Tags: founders, kennicott, gloyd, elizabeth emerson atwater, william stimpson, halloween

Created: 10/22/2015      Updated: 10/24/2017

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Halloween is just a week away, but if you still don’t have a costume ready to go, don’t worry. We have some scientifically-focused suggestions that date back to the early days of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, many of which you can recreate just by visiting a costume store, thrift store, or your own closet!

Robert Kennicott

Robert Kennicott

If you’re the outdoors type, rugged Academy founder Robert Kennicott is your man. To recreate his look, grab:

  • A heavy, long wool coat
  • A western style or oxford shirt
  • A neck scarf or bandana
  • Dark pants
  • A woven sash and garters
  • Moccasins or other soft shoes
  • Unkempt hair and facial hair

Finish the look by toting around an animal pelt or, perhaps, a plush owl (bonus points if it is a Western screech owl, one of Kennicott’s scientific namesakes). Learn more about Robert Kennicott's work and legacy here.

William Stimpson

William Stimpson

Feeling a bit more refined? Academy founder and director William Stimpson is your man! Embrace the refined naturalist look by putting together the following ensemble:

  • A frock coat or formal coat
  • A collared shirt
  • A floppy bow tie or cravat
  • A formal vest
  • A pair of old-fashioned spectacles
  • Dark trousers
  • A mustache

Finish the look by grabbing an aquatic invertebrate friend or two, perhaps a mollusk or crustacean, since Stimpson devoted much of his life to cataloging and researching aquatic invertebrates. Learn more about this work here.

Elizabeth Emerson Atwater

Elizabeth Emerson Atwater

An important woman in the history of the Academy, and the history of botany, Elizabeth Emerson Atwater is the ideal subject for those who love plants and Victorian fashion. To create her look, assemble the following:

  • Long-sleeve, Victorian style dress
  • Shawl
  • Victorian hairstyle – a low, parted bun is probably the easiest to attempt

Be sure to bring along a scrapbook of some plant clippings or pressings to complete the look! Did you know that Atwater embraced botany because it was one of the scientific activities that a "proper" lady could participate in? Learn more about her legacy here.

Howard K. Gloyd

Howard Gloyd


Love all things reptile and amphibian? Then herpetologist and Academy director Howard K. Gloyd is the perfect costume for you! And the look is not very difficult to put together! Simply grab:

  • A Panama hat
  • A safari or cargo vest
  • A white oxford shirt
  • Tall hiking boots
  • Khakis
  • A bow tie
  • A mustache

Gloyd spent his life researching herps of all kinds, so having a rubber snake or two in tow will help complete the look! Learn more about the species that are named after Gloyd here.



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