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Edward Drinker Cope's final feud

December 25 , 2016:

A notoriously combative Quaker naturalist, Edward Drinker Cope relished a good fight. His infamous quarrel with Yale palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, which climaxed in 1890 when it became front-page fodder for the New York herald, was one of the great scandals of nineteenth-century American science. But it was not his last. By the 1890s, his once prodigious vertebrate palaeontology research programme was in tatters. Marsh's many triumphs had demoralized him, while a ruinous succession of unlucky mining investments had depleted his family fortune. Cope, the quintessential gentleman-naturalist, was compelled to pawn his fossil collections and seek a paying position in a university or museum. Unfortunately, he lacked the tact and the proper temperament to adapt himself to an increasingly professionalized American scientific establishment. Struggling and dissatisfied professionally, and facing a painful, life-threatening illness, Cope picked one final feud with Chicago's Field Columbian Museum and its embattled director, Frederick J. V. Skiff, over the thorny issue of scientific autonomy versus authority in America's natural history museums.

P. D. Brinkman (2016)
Edward Drinker Cope's final feud
Archives of Natural History 43(2): 305-320
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/anh.2016.0386


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