A Precious Package

Ninety-nine years ago today, a package arrived at the Smithsonian, dispatched by express train from Cincinnati.

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“Stone,” of course, is Witmer Stone, and the writer Charles Wallace Richmond, Associate Curator of Birds at the National Museum. Robert Wilson Shufeldt, dismissed from the Museum over the Audubon affair 17 years earlier, is the great osteologist and pioneering photographer of birds and other untamed organisms. William Palmer was a second-generation staff taxidermist at the Smithsonian.

And the pigeon? Her name was Martha.

Passenger Pigeon, Pauline de Courcelles Knip