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Francis Harper

Francis Harper

U.S naturalist (1886–1972)
Francis Harper
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro U.S naturalist (1886–1972)
A.K.A. F.Harper
Was Scientist Biologist Botanist Explorer Zoologist
From United States of America
Type Biology Science
Gender male
Birth 17 November 1886, Southbridge, USA
Death 17 November 1972, Chapel Hill, USA (aged 86 years)
Star sign Scorpio
Residence United States of America, USA
Cornell University
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship  
Peoplepill ID francis-harper
The details


Francis Harper (17 November 1886 – 17 November 1972) was an American naturalist known for the study of the 18th-century American naturalists John and William Bartram. His research included studies of the Okefenokee Swamp and fieldwork in the north eastern United States and in northern Canada, and authored new combinations for two species originally described by William Bartram, Garberia heterophylla and Roystonea elata.


Harper received an A.B. in 1914 and a Ph.D. in 1925 from Cornell University. He taught briefly at Swarthmore College, but beyond that he worked for museums, government agencies and research agencies.

In 1914 Harper made his first trip to northern Canada on an expedition to Lake Athabasca working as a zoologist for the Geological Survey of Canada.

Between 1917 and 1919 Harper served as a rodent control officer in France with the United States Army's 79th Division. He returned to Athabasca in 1920, Nueltin Lake in southern Keewatin in 1947 and the Ungava Peninsula in 1953, his last trip north. Harper published notable works on the caribou of Keewatin, the birds of the Ungava Peninsula, and the Montagnais of the Ungava.


From 1917 through the 1950s Harper spent significant time researching the work of the early North American naturalists John Bartram and his son William Bartram. Harper traced the Bartrams' travels in the American South and helped revive both scientific and popular interest in the Bartrams' work, while keeping notebooks on his fieldworks as early as in 1912. Harper's research into the Bartrams was funded by grants from the John Bartram Association in Philadelphia, the American Philosophical Society, and the Guggenheim Foundation among others.

Extensive publications on both of the Bartrams included annotated editions of John Bartram's "Diary of a Journey through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida 1765-1766"; William Bartram's "Report to Dr. John Fothergill 1773-1774" and an annotated The Travels of William Bartram: Naturalist’s Edition first published in Philadelphia in 1791.

Harper published on the mammals and folklore of the Okefenokee Swamp, including recordings of the local music. He also published on the "extinct and vanishing" mammals of the old world. His papers are held in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas.


Harper authored about 135 publications including:

  • "The Vultur Sacra of William Bartram", written by William Bartram, edited by F. Harper. Swarthmore, Pa, 1936? OCLC 898176374, ISSN 0004-8038
  • "The Bartram trail through the southeastern states", Chicago, 1939. OCLC 6248679
  • "Some works of Bartram, Daudin, Latreille, and Sonnini, and their bearing upon North American herpetological nomenclature", Notre Dame: Indiana University Press, 1940.OCLC 6588855
  • "William Bartram's names of birds", Rochester: , 1942? OCLC 977478068
  • "John Bartram's Diary ; and William Bartram's Travels, edited by F. Harper, "Transactions of American Philosophy Society", n.s., 33 (1-2), Philadelphia: APS, 1944. OCLC 84528141
  • "Diary of a Journey through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, from July 1, 1765 to April 10, 1766" edited by F. Harper.
  • "Travels in Georgia and Florida, 1773-74. A Report to Dr. John Fothergill" edited by Francis Harper.
  • The Travels of William Bartram: Naturalist’s Edition, edited by Francis Harper, University of Georgia Press: (30 September 1998), ISBN 0-8203-2027-7.


Further readings

  • The American Committee and the First Inventory of Extinction in "Nature's Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology", Barrow, Mark V., University of Chicago Press, 2009. pp.159–163. ISBN 0226038149, 9780226038148, OCLC 685176552
  • "Bartram Heritage: A Study of the Life of William Bartram : Including the Report to the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, U.S. Department of the Interior", by Bartram Trail Conference ; Brad Sanders, 1979. OCLC 6424517
  • "John and William Bartram's America" by Cruickshank, Helen Gere, Nueva York : The American Museum of Natural History, 1957. OCLC 981340018
  • Chapter 5: Okefenokee Swampers in "Trembling Earth: A Cultural History of the Okefenokee Swamp", Nelson, Megan Kate, University of Georgia Press, 2005. ISBN 0820326771, 9780820326771
  • "On Harper's Trail: Roland McMillan Harper, Pioneering Botanist of the Southern Coastal Plain", Shores, Elizabeth F., University of Georgia Press, 2008. On Francis' brother Roland, who sometimes accompanied Francis and often discussed with him as a botanist on natural history.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 13 May 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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