Natural History,  Illustrated
The Academy Library and Archives of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University contains rare and historically significant books with exquisitely detailed scientific illustrations documenting the natural history of life.

The Academy Library and Archives at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is internationally recognized for its rare and historic books, journals, art, artifacts, manuscripts, photographs, and the unique papers and research of Academy members and staff.

The Library holds more than 250,000 titles that span from 1520 to present, including manuscripts by historically significant figures such as John James Audubon and Charles Darwin. 


01 Vulpes Velox, Say. Swift Fox.


02 Bos Americanus, Gmel (American Bison or Buffalo)

The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America / by John James Audubon

John James Audubon was a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences and is best known for his masterpiece “Birds of America.” His book on quadrupeds was his next large-scale project, and the quality of the plates are comparable.


03 “l’elephant


04 “L’ai Adulte (Three-toed Ground Sloth)”

Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulière / by Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon


05 “Calyptorhynchus Basksii (Red-Tailed Black-Cockatoo)”

The Birds of Australia / by John Gould


06 “Rhea Darwinii”

The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle / by Charles Darwin, Esq.


07 Phalaena Regia (Persimmon Moth, Caterpillar and Pupa)”

The Naturalists’ Miscellany, or Coloured Figures of Natural Objects / by George Shaw

Once an ordained deacon, George Shaw quit to pursue his love of natural history. He co-founded the Linneaen Society and identified many new species from Australia while working at the British Museum.


08 Granaat Boom


09 Scorpana Histrio

The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle / by Charles Darwin, Esq.

This book details the specimens collected by Charles Darwin during the H.M.S. Beagle’s voyage around the coasts of South America, Australia, Africa and elsewhere. The series was initially issued in five parts over four years. Each part was authored by an expert in the field. Darwin’s observations on this trip led him to develop his theory of evolution.


10 “Surinaamsche Krocodil (Surinam Crocodile)”

Dissertatio de Generatione et Metamorphosibus Insectorum Surinamensium / by Maria Sibylla Merian

Maria Sibylla Merian’s work depicted, possibly for the first time, the metamorphoses of insects and the flora and fauna that surrounded them. This was no small feat in the 17th century, and her work influenced other great naturalists including John James Audubon, Mark Catesby and William Bartram.


11 Land Crab

The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands / by Mark Catesby

Mark Catesby’s etchings were said to be “drawn from life,” unlike other naturalists and artists of his time whose work was drawn from dried specimens or described second hand.


12 “Chelonia Caretta (Loggerhead Sea Turtle)”


13 “Coluber Eximius”

North American Herpetology / by John Edwards Holbrook