1909 Princeton graduate Charles H. Rogers returned in 1920 as a teacher of biology, ornithology and curator of the Ornithology Collection. The collection was created in 1879 to document the diversity of earth’s birds. During Rogers’ tenure, he built the collection to 15,000 study skins. Once considered as having only historical value, such collections provide information concerning species characteristics, changes over time, and, of course, critical information about the effects of climate change.
During my time teaching in Princeton’s Visual Arts Program (1978-81), I saw a university publication featuring the Rogers Ornithology Collection. Having always thought photography was about collecting, and having always considered myself a collector, the chance to work in a purposeful collection, spanning many eras, and created with a very different medium fascinated me. As a member of the faculty, I was permitted access to photograph. Photographs from this project received a National Endowment for the Arts award in 1981.