Gilbert White was born and lived in Selborne, Hampshire, England. He was a pastor in the Selborne church, and is believed to be the world's first serious field scientist. Unlike most scientists of the 1700's, Gilbert did not kill his subjects to study them, he spent his time in the field, studying everything from insects to large mammals. He wrote profusely on natural history, and communicated widely with other people on their observations and anecdotal writing. Gilbert was the first person to moot the possibility that Barn Swallows (simply known as The Swallow at the time) migrated. He did not accept the commonly accepted notions that they hibernated. The house shown in the picture below is where he lived and did his work. It is presently curated and maintained by a charitable Trust as a museum.  

In 1789, Gilbert compiled a book of his observations, and letters between himself and other natural history observers, into a book, "The Natural History of Selborne." 

The image below is the manuscript of "The Natural History of Selborne" in its location in the "Gilbert White's House and Museum" in Selborne. Whilst the manuscript purported to record the natural history of his home village, it went far beyond this, and is a remarkable record of natural history observations, that are important in that they guided thinking away from supposition and mystery, to solidly based scientific observation

He was a typical field scientist who spent hours in the field, collecting plants and other organic specimens, and much time preparing specimens of dead creatures sent to him by people who knew of, and supported, his studies. His study, shown below, was bare and basic, and is reproduced in the museum according to how his long-time housekeeper remembered it. 

Follow this link to learn more about Gilbert White and his work


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