“Samuel Nicholson Rhoads: Commitment to Community, Conservaton & Cooperation”
March 23, 2011
Click Here To See Pictures From The Evening
(Video coming soon!)
By all reports, the many dedicated supporters who braved the elements enjoyed both the program for the evening and the lovely dinner. The presentation for the evening was a multi-faceted program created by the Research Library of the Historical Society in partnership with the Academy of Natural Science in Philadelpia and the Environmental Science Department of the Haddonfield Memorial High School.
The program was a departure from prior years with a heavy emphasis on the visual element of the presentation and organized as a series of brief talks on each aspect of the Rhoads’ project. The fascinating exhibits in the back of the dining room were a collection of original Rhoades journals/letters and bird specimens collected by Rhoades (loaned for the evening from the Academy). The original historical photographs on display were a trip back in time to the Haddonfield of Rhoads’ childhood and the scenes of his later travels.
The evening’s program:
- “My Favorite Thicket” By Samuel N. Rhoads, read by Rosy Tucker, a HMHS student
- “Introduction to the Samuel N. Rhoads’ Project” by Kim Custer, HSH and Academy of Natural Sciences Volunteer Researcher
- “Samuel N. Rhoads, A Brief Biography” by Katherine M. Tassini, HSH Head Librarian
- “Expeditions and Archives” by Clare Flemming, Brook Dolan Archivist, Academy of Natural Sciences
- “Inspiring Education and Exploration” by Ron Smith, HMHS Environmental Science Teacher
The subject of the presentation, Samuel Nicholson Rhoads, was a noted late-19th century naturalist who resided in Haddonfield and in his youth began documenting his observations on birds found in the South Jersey area. An excerpt from his journal, written at age 10, was read as part of the evening’s program. As an adult, he was an active community volunteer, becoming one of the founding members of the Historical Society and a vocal spokesperson for the preservation of the Hopkins Pond area. His advocacy for the preservation of green and open space in Haddonfield laid the groundwork for subsequent efforts. He was also involved in the organization and production in 1911 of the 200th Anniversary of the founding of Haddonfield as well as the building of the Public Library/Historical Society building.
We at the Historical Society were tremendously proud of our volunteers, Kathy Tassini and Kim Custer, for the extraordinary talent, effort and persistence they showed in producing the wonderful presentation we all enjoyed on that rainy and cold spring evening.
And to think the genesis for entire project started with Kim Custer, up in the attic of the Mickle House in February 2010 musing to herself “I wonder WHAT is in that box over there?”
More About the Project
This year the Historical Society Annual Dinner features a new and innovative program about Samuel Nicholson Rhoads (1862-1952), naturalist, historian, visionary and lifelong Haddonfield resident. The program will feature four speakers who will share their experiences in bringing this late 19th and early 20th century figure back to prominence in the 21st century. Kathy Tassini and Kim Custer of the Historical Society Library will highlight the important achievements of Rhoads both locally and internationally and some of their implications for us today. Clare Flemming, Brooke Dolan Archivist of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, will speak on the Rhoads materials held by the ANSP. Finally, Ron Smith, environmental sciences teacher at Haddonfield Memorial High School will speak about how Rhoads’ work in environmental and natural sciences is being integrated into an exciting project for students at HMHS.
Our story starts with the Rhoads family donation of the papers, diaries, research notes, books and photographs of Samuel N. Rhoads to the Historical Society Library over a period of about thirty years. Over the past two years, the importance of these materials in the 21stcentury has come to the fore as a result of community discussions surrounding Boxwood Hall, the home of his ancestors, natural history and green space, all topics of intense interest and study by Mr. Rhoads.
As a result of research trips to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia by Kim Custer and Kathy Tassini, important cooperative studies involving these two institutions which each hold important Rhoads research materials, were initiated. In addition, the Academy has in its extensive specimen collections thousands of specimens collected by Samuel N. Rhoads in both the US and on foreign collecting trips for the Academy. Kim Custer, with help from Nate Rice, Collections Manager, Ornithology Department of the ANSP and Ron Smith of HMHS, has developed a GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping program that shows the locations around Haddonfield where some specimens were collected and coordinates these specimens with Rhoads’ field notes regarding the birds.
This will be an exciting introduction for many to the innovative use of 21st century digital technology to bring to life an important and extremely interesting late 19th and early 20th century Haddonfield treasure, Samuel Nicholson Rhoads.