Artifacts & Documents: Manuscripts

Edward Hitchcock's Three Letters to James Deane, 1835

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Edward Hitchcock made a copy of one letter in full and portions of two other letters that he sent to James Deane. In the first letter, dated March 15, 1835, he finds Deane's hypothesis that marks in stone appear to be bird tracks interesting but wonders if the supposed tracks might be odd spots in the sandstone and he says he can't say for certain until he sees the specimens. He did visit Greenfield at an unknown date to examine the stones, and became immediately convinced that they were birdlike tracks. 

In the excerpt dated Sept. 15, 1835, Hitchcock says that he plans to submit an article to the January 1836 issue of American Journal of Science, and assures Deane that he will acknowledge him for "first discovery." In the excerpt of the letter dated Sept. 21, 1835, he agrees that the tracks were made by birds, but says they will have a hard time convincing geologists of this.

Edward Hitchcock
Courtesy of:
Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers, Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library