Earlier this year, I promised readers of this newspaper that 2023 would be the “Year of Treat.” This was in reference to my publishing the first definitve biography of one of Vineland’s pre-eminent early citizens. Mary Treat, you may recall, corresponded with British biologist Charles Darwin more than any other woman scientist as their studies of carnivorous plants coincided on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
In this article, I will bring you up to date with what’s happened since I last wrote about the “year of Treat” just prior to the marking of 100 years since her death on April 11. In the one-week absence of our usual columnist on this page, I’ll also clue you in on what CU Maurice River is doing regarding my book, Mary Treat: A Biography, in coming months.
On Saturday, April 15, I was honored to return to the Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society (VHAS) to talk to interested residents about my research, much of which was done in the Society museum’s back room, sifting through the estate files Treat and her family members left to the VHAS.
I was thrilled with the questions asked and comments shared after my presentation that day, especially John Pederson’s idea that Vineland should consider naming a park or natural area for Mary Treat. Another suggestion was that RCSJ – Cumberland might name a science wing for the renowned Vineland scientist. I would love to join anyone in efforts to accomplish one or both of these endeavors. If this also interests you, please contact me through the book’s website, www.marytreat.com.
If you’re interested in learning more about the international influence this early resident of Vineland had, join us on a bus trip to the New York Public Library, as VHAS hosts a trip to view the Charles Darwin Correspondence Project, an exhibition that was originated and previously shown at the University of Cambridge in London. (See sidebar on page 9 for details about the bus trip.)
Later in April, I gave a Zoom presentation to the American Entomological Society members—many in and surrounding the Philadelphia area as well as others around the globe—about Treat’s work with insects. I hope to attend Drexel’s Bug Fest in August, with Mary Had a Little Zoo, my just-published coloring book that tells Treat’s story to kids in an interactive way that I think Mary would love.
In early May, I took my presentation on the road to Chaplin, Connecticut, where the public library joined with the Joshua Land Trust to welcome me and learn about the woman scientist who studied plants and insects all along the Atlantic coastal plain, from New England to the New Jersey Pine Barrens to northern Florida.
Last Thursday evening, I was privileged to be part of the “NJ Author Series: Reading Around New Jersey.” Coordinated by the Millville Public Library’s masterful librarian, Courtenay Reece, the event brought together area residents especially interested in my researching, writing, and publishing of the book. The series is funded by the Cumberland County Cultural & Heritage Commission.
Up next is a Pinelands Short Course I will be presenting at Stockton University’s Kramer Hall in Hammonton on Friday, June 23. Learn more at stockton.edu/continuing-studies/pinelandsshortcourse.html
On July 13, the CU Maurice River Book Circle, with members having already read my biography, will meet to discuss it. (If interested, RSVP at cumauriceriver.org/event/book-circle/?instance_id=1249.) Suzy Merighi has coordinated these discussions twice a year, with books covering themes in the natural sciences. The group previously read and discussed The Insect Crisis, by Oliver Milman. It is an excellent lead-in to my biography of an entomologist who cared deeply about the delicate balance of nature and the role each and every creature plays in it—even the bugs many of us detest.
Yes, after reading Milman’s book, I think twice before squashing insects, such as a wasp on my porch that may be a pollinator of our fig trees. Mary Treat’s research also has me paying more attention to anthills and spiders that have their places in nature. Milman details the plight of the monarch butterfly, the honeybee, and less beloved insects that are in danger of extinction due to the triple threats of habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change—all interacting with each other in adverse ways. The smoke-filled days of recent weeks should be a wake-up call to all of us regarding just how quickly these threats can turn life around for Planet Earth’s inhabitants.
Finally, I look forward to discussing Mary Treat on behalf of CU Maurice River at the Mauricetown Riverfest on Saturday, September 16.
Stay tuned to the book’s website at www.marytreat.com for event dates as they are added (also, the QR code in the box at right will take you there). I’ll be posting other Mary Treat news, too, such as our efforts to name a natural area and/or college science wing for Vineland’s esteemed ecologist.
Historical Society Plans Bus Trip to NYC, Darwin Exhibition
On Wednesday, July 12, the Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society (VHAS) will sponsor a bus trip to New York City. The fundraising event has been scheduled to visit the New York Public Library, where Vineland’s resident naturalist, Mary Treat, has been included in an exhibit on Charles Darwin. (However, visiting the exhibit is not required for those who want to visit the city, see a show or go shopping.)
The Society loaned a number of items owned by Treat to the Darwin exhibit, including a copy of her book, Home Studies in Nature, and handwritten research notes. The exhibit, open to the public from through early August of this year, explores Darwin’s life and works.
A noted scientist, he first proposed a controversial theory of human evolution in the 19th century. During his lifetime, Darwin wrote and received over 15,000 letters as part of a global network of scientists who studied the natural world.
Between 1871 and 1876, Treat and Darwin exchanged 15 letters as they shared theories about the development of plants and insect life. She discovered different species of both that were named in her honor and wrote five books about her findings.
Cost of the trip is $75 per person. The bus will leave at 8 a.m. from VHAS at 108 S. Seventh Street. The return trip will leave New York at about 7 p.m. and arrive back in Vineland around 10 p.m.
To register online, visit forms.gle/2krYguFhzCoNkp2p7. Payment is also accepted by check or through Paypal. Seating is limited, so sign up soon.
Available now at https://tinyurl.com/4swsx4kw
This coloring book tells the story of Mary Treat. Great summertime activity for kids, grandkids, even adults! Inside illustrations by Laura Bethmann, many of them inspired by drawings in Treat’s books and articles. Cover illustration by Emily Farrell.
Be sure to pick up an issue of SNJ Today in coming weeks for an “Easter egg,” one of the 32 pages in Mary Had a Little Zoo. presented as a “Kid’s Page.”
As soon as available on Amazon, that link will be posted at marytreat.com