The Historical Society of Haddonfield is proud to announce the publication of a new children’s book: Samuel N. Rhoads of Haddonfield, NJ: Birds, Books and Big Adventures. The book is the culmination of a three-year project by the Haddonfield Middle School Nature Club to investigate the life of Rhoads, a local naturalist and historian.
The Historical Society will celebrate the book and its authors at a book release party on Sunday April 17 from 2-4 pm at the auditorium of Haddonfield Friends Meeting, 45 Friends Avenue, Haddonfield, NJ. All are welcome to come celebrate! Books will be available for $10 per copy. After the party, the books will be $12 each.
The Nature Club began its study of Samuel Rhoads (1862-1952) at the suggestion of Kim Custer, a volunteer at the Historical Society who had herself been researching Rhoads’ life and how his childhood in Haddonfield influenced his love of nature. Among his many interests, Rhoads was a founder of the Delaware Valley Ornithological Society and collected thousands of specimens in the U.S. and in South America for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.
“I thought Samuel would be a wonderful role model for the students,” said Custer, a classroom aide for the Haddonfield Public Schools. “They were thrilled to hear that he was only 12 when he donated his first specimen, a bird from Haddonfield, to the Academy. And we were all fascinated to be able to read his own field notes and personal papers held at the Historical Society’s Archives Center.”
Custer eventually suggested that the club write a biography of Rhoads that could be used in Haddonfield schools’ social studies curriculum. Under the direction of Custer and Nature Club advisor Robin Walters, sixteen students wrote text, created illustrations, and selected historical images and documents to include in the biography. The book’s authors include Custer, Walters, and Nature Club members Patrick Ainsworth, Julia Chin, Helen Chung, Claire Custer, Philip Edmonston, Rachel D’Emelia, Chloe Lin, Zoe Murray, Natalie Naticchia, Sarah Naticchia, Banks Sapnar, Miles Schroeder, Evelyn Sky, Nina Tan, Mark Vaughn and Claudia Watson.