Research is a passion with me; it drives me; it is my relentless master.
Margaret Morse Nice
In selecting naturalists for my mail art project there is usually something that appeals to me and governs my choice. In this case my initial inspiration came from location. It was startling to find that the ornithologist, Margaret Morse Nice, had lived and done her most famous work in Columbus, Ohio - very near my parents home but on the opposite side of the Olentangy river. Ms. Nice had moved away years before they arrived but it was still amazing to think that my mother and father may have heard the songs of relatives of the Song Sparrows she studied for 8 years. Other ornithologists were dismissive about her choice of species of bird to study as too common, but her intense observation brought to light many new concepts and the study as a whole was the most intensive behavioral observation for a single species at that time.
Ornithology had always been a "man's field" where women were not allowed to participate. Ms. Nice opened that door.
My brother, John Eufinger, scouted out the place where she lived with her husband who worked for Ohio State University, and their four daughters. The house still exists but whatever feeling of grace it had is lost as it is now occupied by cheerful male students who decorate the walls with posters about beer.
The area where she did her research on song sparrows, however, probably remains quite the same as it is on a floodplain where no building can take place.