|Nelson Fithian Davis, Sr. (August 8, 1872 – November 11, 1939) devoted much of his life to Bucknell University where he received the degrees of B.S. in 1895, M.S. in 1896, and Honorary Doctorate of Science in 1903. Davis left Bucknell briefly, returning in 1898 as Instructor in Biology. He was named to a full professorship in 1902, and served as Chair of the Department of Biology from 1910 until his death in 1939. |
Davis had numerous wide-ranging interests. During summers, he worked at the Long Island Cold Spring Harbor Carnegie Station for Experimental Evolution from 1895 through 1906, at the University of Vermont in 1914, and at the University of Chicago in 1921. A member of the Triton Club of New York that owned land in Canada, he vacationed at Lac des Passes, north of Quebec. He also spent a great amount of time at Old Gap Camp, a nature reserve to which he often took his students on study trips. Davis gathered bird and animal specimens from all of these areas for display in the Natural History Museum he maintained for the university. Later in his career, Davis implemented the use of photographic and reader lantern slides for lectures in order to carry out his teaching duties when his eyesight began to fail. This innovation resulted in historically significant additions to his collection of photographic images.
The bulk of the Davis Collection is composed of the negatives, original photographic prints, reproductions from original prints, and slides amassed by Dr. Davis while he was a member of the university faculty. Davis's interest in photography paralleled his love of science and Bucknell. Much of his photographic work is centered on these two subjects. Some images were reprinted from other photographers' collections, were commercially produced, or were commissioned by Bucknell University. Others were taken from textbook illustrations. Some of the text on reader slides was reproduced from texts Davis used in his lectures.
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