Everard Ferdinand Im Thurn
Everard Im Thurn was a Museum Curator, Botanist, Mountaineer, Explorer, Anthropologist, Ornithologist, Photographer and Administrator. Im Thurn’s ‘multidisciplinary’ career is particularly relevant to this PhD Project on Cross-Cultural Histories of Tropical Botany in Latin America.
Everard Im Thurn (1852-1932) studied at Marlborough, England, where he worked on the local birds in 1869. Afterwards, he preceded his studies at Exeter College and finished his degree in 1875. In 1877, Im Thurn was appointed Curator of the Museum in British Guiana (now Guyana) on Joseph Hooker’s recommendation, and on the 25th July he landed at Georgetown, Demerara. While he was Curator in British Guiana, Everard Im Thurn organised the museum and travelled to the interior of the colony, collecting some botanical specimens, which were sent to Kew’s Botanic Gardens.
On 18 December 1884, Everard Im Thurn and his companion, Harry Perkins, together with seven Indians, reached the Roraima summit “without any difficulty greater than might be overcome by a very ordinary degree of endurance.” Im Thurn and Perkins ‘discovered’ the edge which proved the key to reach Roraima, regarded as inaccessible. During the expedition, the plants collected on the way to Roraima and on the mountain itself, were sent to, examined and catalogued at Kew; 53 new species and 3 new genera were then identified by the Kew botanists (Im Thurn, 1887).
Im Thurn contributed not only to the field of Botany, with collections of botanical specimens and published papers, but also to Anthropology with many published works, which highlight his interest in photography. Most of his fascinating photographic collections are held by the RAI (Royal Anthropological Institute) and the RGS (Royal Geographical Society).
Im Thurn’s botanical specimens are housed at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (with collections in the Herbarium and Economic Botany) and at the Natural History Museum, London. In Kew's Archives, there are also many documents concerning Im Thurn’s correspondence and newspapers of that period, while he was in British Guiana, as curator and magistrate and then in the Fiji islands, as Governor. The focus of this project, however, is on his Latin American collections, regarding the particular case of Guyana.
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