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Snapshots of Nature: Tappan Gregory Nature Photography

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Tags: photography, mammals, Archive, Tappan Gregory, nature photography

Created: 7/26/2013      Updated: 9/2/2015

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Portrait of Tappan Gregory

Tappan Gregory

Although he was a lawyer by training and practice, Tappan Gregory was also a nature photographer and supporter of the Chicago Academy of Sciences.  He served as the Honorary Curator of Mammals from 1930 to 1944 and contributed articles to Academy publications as well. We are fortunate to have the negatives of some of his photography, particularly those highlighting his use of wildlife “self-portrait” photography. While to us this kind of imaging seems a normal part of scientific exploration, while Gregory was working this kind of photography was very new and standardized equipment had not been developed yet.  Below is a small sampling of the images housed in the Museum’s collection.

juvenile porcupine

Juvenile Porcupine walking along ridge of boat, ca. 1907, Huron Mountain Club, Marquette, MI

Diagram of photo trap

Diagram of camera set-up for wildlife “self-portrait” photographs.

Skunk with bait

Skunk responding to bait.  October 18, 1928, Huron Mountain Club, Marquette, MI

Black and White photo of a Franklin's ground squirrel

Franklin’s Ground Squirrel, Waucaunda, Ill July 27, 1941

Two fox kits

Two Red Fox kits or pups caught on film.  May 13, 1941, Huron Mountain Club, Marquette, MI

Amber King
Assistant Collections Manager

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  • Amber King said (on 9/23/2013 )

    We have paper materials (including some related to his brother Stephen S, Jr.) that include some personal materials and a small amount of correspondence and for his photographic materials 257 4"x5" b/w glass plate negatives and 160 3.25"x4.25" b/w glass plate negatives that have been processed. We also have one box of photographic prints, under 25 in number. Most of the images are of the night self-portrait photography of various animals.

  • Andrew C. Eller, Jr. said (on 2/10/2015 )

    Thanks for posting this biography. I learned of Mr. Gregory from a 1936 journal article titled "A preliminary report on the distribution of mammals in Louisiana" by George H. Lowery, Jr. The quote is as follows: "Reference to the Louisiana wolf cannot be made without including mention of the monumental work done by Mr. Tappan Gregory of the Chicago Academy of Sciences in 1935, in photographing the living "Black Wolf of the Tensas." Do your holdings include images of the black wolf of the Tensas River basin?

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