Colony & Empire


American Identity



Realms of Fin and Feet and Wing  offers interdisciplinary curriculum materials to integrate early American natural history documents  and works of art into World History, American History, British Literature, American Literature, and Biology.


The site is organized along four major themes: Colony & Empire, Romanticism, American Identity, and Ecology, each of which offers natural history materials paired with materials already in use in classroom curriculum and that can be adjusted for levels from 9th - 12th grade or for a freshman collegiate level.



The Colony and Empire theme covers the earliest years of colonial American natural history as it fits into Mercantilism and the development of Empire.


The unit touches on Sir Francis Bacon, Carolus Linnaeus, Mark Catesby, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, and the Great Chain of Being.


The Romantic Naturalists  theme explores the relationship between the art, literature, and natural history of the Romantic period, including Coleridge, Hawthorn, Emerson, Thomas Cole, William Bartram, and Martin Johnson Heade.




In the American Identity theme, the focus is on the role of natural history in the forming of American ideals in the years after the American Revolution.  America at this time is developing its own institutions and methods for science, sometimes against the practices current in Europe.  The theme also touches on the earliest yearnings towards westward expansion into the Louisiana purchase.  Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Wilson, Comte de Buffon, Charles Wilson Peale, and a mastodon make an appearance.

The Ecology theme encompasses ecology and some evolutionary  biology, covering some of the history of the concepts of evolutions, of biogeography, and of past and current themes of adaptation.  It also touches on how the illustration of species emphasizes an organism's relationship to an environment or its presence as an isolated specimen.


The primary and secondary sources consulted for the creation of this site can be found on the Bibliography and the About the Originals pages.


The  bulk of the research was accomplished at the Crystal Bridges Library in Bentonville, Arkansas and was funded through the William Reese Company Fellowship.  This fellowship is offered annually to high school teachers and administered by Crystal Bridges.

this site  was created through a fellowship from the William Reese Company

and completed through the

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Library

site written and created by  Anne Greenwood


ealms of fin and feet and wing