Great Lakes/Great Books is a monthly discussion group of books that have a focus on the Great Lakes or on water in general. Works of fiction, nonfiction, and more are discussed both in-person and virtually. This month’s selection is The Bridman of Koshkonong: The Life of Naturalist Thure Kumlien by Martha Bergland.
About The Birdman of Koshkonong:
Thure Kumlien was one of Wisconsin’s earliest Swedish settlers and an accomplished ornithologist, botanist, and naturalist in the mid-1800s, though his name is not well known today. He settled on the shore of Lake Koshkonong in 1843 and soon began sending bird specimens to museums and collectors in Europe and the eastern United States, including the Smithsonian. Later, he prepared natural history exhibits for the newly established University of Wisconsin and became the frist curator and third employee of the new Milwaukee Publich Museum. or all of his achievements, Kumlien never gained the widespread notoriety of Wisconsin naturalists John Muir, Increase Lapham, or Aldo Leopold. Kumlien did his work behind the scenes, content to spend his days in the marshes and swamps rahter than in the public eye. Yet, his detailed observations of Wisconsin’s natural world–including the imact of early agriculture on the environment–were hugely important to the fields of ornithology and botany.