Letter from SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD and MARY CHURCHILL BAIRD to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated January 9, 1872.
My Dear Mr Marsh,
I enclose a letter from Geo. Gibbs in reference to the inquiring made by sometime ago as to whether the right-hand is used by the Indians in preference to the left.
The response of Gen Barker covers the ground quite satisfactorily.
I have also seen lately and essay by some physiologist in which he shows that there is some peculiarity in the circulation of the system, by which in the greater number of cases, the right hand must necessarily be the organ selected.
We are all well this winter, & having your brother, the Edmunds & Carrie Crane in Washington, we find occasion to talk a good deal about you.
I am hard at work as usual, as you may well imagine, although I am getting so fat-that it is more of an undertaking for me to move around promptly than formerly. I now weigh over 200 lbs, & have a fair prospect of reaching 250 lbs. by the end of the present year.
I have just put to press my new book on the N. American birds,
in which I have the co-operation of Dr Brewer in reference to
the habits of the species. The work will be properly illustrated by very good wood
cuts, & I think will be a valuable addition to science. You will also,
perhaps, be pacified to know, that I am
reprinting, as proposed, all my scientific matter published in the Harper's Magazine, the Phla. Ledger & the Agricultural Department, under the title of "The Annual Record of Science & Industry for 1871." This will contain full references to all authorities cited & include a very copious alphabetical index to all names of authors, species & principal points referred to. It will also embrace a bibliography & necrology for the year.
My Fish Commission work, as I believe I wrote you, was prosecuted severely during the past summer. I spent four months at Wood's Hole & brought back immense stores of facts & specimens, as well as photographs of species. Of some of these I propose to send you a series as soon as I can have them printed off, inorder that you may show your friends in Italy what our American food fish look like. I shall be very glad to enter into communication with any specialists in Italy, or to furnish any information that may be in my power to such persons there. I have been much interested & profited, of late, in reading, as far as I could make it out, a memoir by the Achille Costa upon the fishing in the Gulf of Naples, as published by the Atti del Reale Institute D'incorni Gaminto Alle Scienze Naturali etc. di Napoli; Second Series, vol. 7; 1870; & would be pleased to obtain an extra copy of the work. Do you think it at all possible that you could procure it?
We have just received a number of packages from your bother & Mr Edmunds, containing some books, which we will forward to you, & Dr Hayden promises to add to it a series of his photographs of the wonderful scenery discovered by him on the Yellowstone River.
With much love to Mrs Marsh, believe me,
Sincerely Yours,Spencer F Baird
Hon. Geo. P. Marsh.
[Written on the back of the letter]
My dear Mr. Marsh,
This is handed us with a pile of other matters for us to mail; & the "other" is so much that I have only time to add my love to you both.
Lucy wished to know the price of card photographs, mounted or unmounted, of celebrated pictures? She is very fond of art & reading study thou she had not strength enough to do much practically; & she says she is trying to get a kind of photographic encyclopaedia of the best works of art to familiarize herself with them and to their make up, in order to read more profitably. Some little photographs you sent her are the sort she means. Those who finds him are, she thinks very poor. I wish the child could have a good talk with you two. She says our habitues have too much sciences, & too little literature & general culture to quite satisfy her.
Always affectionately, including both of you,
Mary H. C. Baird
References in this letter:
The ethnologist George Gibbs (1815-1873) participated in the Boundary Survey of Northwest America and Canada. He specialized in the study of Indian languages and contributed to Smithsonian publications on the subject.
George Franklin Edmunds (1828-1919) began his career practicing law in Burlington. He served in the Vermont State House of Representatives and in the State Senate. In 1866 he was elected to the United States Senate as a Republican to fill the vacancy caused by Solomon Foot's death and served for four terms. He resigned in 1891. Edmunds was married to Susan Edmunds, the daughter of Marsh's sister and Wyllys Lyman, his Burlington friend.
Carrie Marsh Crane, Caroline Marsh's niece, daughter of her brother Thomas, accompanied the Marshs for a number of years during his tenure as minister to Italy. She died in a shipwreck in 1874.
Spencer Fullerton Baird, Thomas Mayo Brewer and Robert Ridgway, A History of North American Birds. Land Birds. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1874.
Thomas Mayo Brewer (1814-1880) and William Hayden published The Boston Weekly Atlas from 1845 to 1857.
Harper's Magazine. New York: 1850-present. Monthly.
Annual Record of Science & Industry 1871-1878. 8 vols. New York, Harper & Bros., 1872-1879. This series was a continuation of the Annual of Scientific Discovery. Baird edited the publication with the assistance of eminent scientists of the day.
In the 1860s Baird had became concerned about the decline of Atlantic fish populations. In a 1870 report to the House Committee on Appropriations he suggested the appointment of a Fish Commissioner to direct research into the problem. President Grant appointed Baird the first director of the newly formed U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries in 1871.
Achille Costa (1823-1898) studied entomology and ichthyology. He is the author of "La pesca nel golfo di Napoli," in R. Instituto d'incoraggiamento di Napoli. Naples, 1870 (2 series, vol. 7, pp 33-128).
The geologist Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden (1829-1887) was head of the U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories from 1867 to 1879.