Ever since I came across the newspaper clippings and annual reports that made reference to two live beavers that occupied a small pool outside of the Animal Biology building on the University of Minnesota campus from 1917-1924, I have been on a quest to find photographic evidence. I have been talking about the beavers so much, that twice I have caught myself mistakenly utter “Bieber” when referring to them. I consider these beavers to be the celebrities of my natural history world.
Since starting work on the Exploring grant project I have completed descriptive metadata for over 2,000 scanned images of the glass plate negatives from the Bell Museum of Natural History collection. These negatives were produced by Thomas Sadler Roberts, who served as the Associate Curator and later Director of the University’s Zoological Museum/Museum of Natural History from 1915 – 1946
Surely, Roberts, a dedicated ornithologist, who lugged his boxy accordian-esque 19th century camera equipment into the middle of reed-laden marshes, up to remote northern lakes, and to the tops of the tallest trees to capture birds in their natural environment, would have photographed such a novel thing as two pet beaver kittens swimming in a pool on campus. The pool was installed right below his office window for heaven’s sake!
Sure enough, after approximately 2100 images reviewed, I received my reward – two images of “Beavers, captive in pool at U.”
Read the previous beaver posts to learn more about these creatures and the circumstances of their residency at the University of Minnesota: