Historic Southern Naturalists: Lewis R. Gibbes

Lewis Reeves Gibbes, by J. A. Nowell, 1886 (McKissick Museum)
Lewis Reeves Gibbes, by J. A. Nowell, 1886 (McKissick Museum)

By Joshua Schutzenhofer

The Historic Southern Naturalists digital collection contains a variety of documents from naturalists that worked mainly with the South Carolina College, in Charleston. The items in this collection are some of the earliest objects and work in natural history. The Charleston Museum’s papers are part of the Historic Southern Naturalists digital collection and contain myriad historical ephemera including advertisements, books, check lists for collections, pamphlets, plant catalogs, postcards, and letters.

Recently, we received several letters from the Charleston Museum for digitization. Many of these letters are addressed to Lewis R. Gibbes from different prominent individuals. Lewis R. Gibbes (1810-1894) was a scientist that focused on botany, astronomy, and physics, and he communicated frequently with others in those fields. Gibbes was also a professor at the College of Charleston and wrote several articles on topics including mineralogy, chemistry, and botany.

Edmund Ravenel (1797-1871), a professor of chemistry and pharmacy at

Letter to Lewis R. Gibbes, professor at College of Charleston, from Henry William Ravenel, November 9, 1886.
Letter to Lewis R. Gibbes, professor at College of Charleston, from Henry William Ravenel, November 9, 1886.

Medical College of South Carolina, was one of the many that corresponded with Gibbes. John Bachman (1790 – 1874), an American naturalist, minister, and fellow professor of natural history at the College of Charleston, described several mammals not included in any scientific works, and was in frequent contact with Gibbes as well. Others with whom Gibbes shared letters with include John P. Barrett, Joseph H. Mellichamp, and Henry W. Ravenel. The letters discuss several different topics including the research that they were working on, resources that they shared with each other, or discoveries that they had made.

To learn about the history of the field of natural history through the collections of significant naturalists of the South, especially those associated with the University of South Carolina, visit the Historic Southern Naturalists website.

References

Letter to Lewis R. Gibbes from a friend, August 8, 1863, page 1
Letter to Lewis R. Gibbes from a friend, August 8, 1863, page 1

Stephens, Lester D. (2016, May). Bachman, John, February 4, 1790 – February 24, 1874. South Carolina Encyclopedia. http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/bachman-john/.

Stephens, Lester D. (2016, June). Ravenel, Edmund, December 8, 1797 – July 27, 1871. South Carolina Encyclopedia. http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/ravenel-edmund/.