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as a staff artist, juggling, as she wrote in The Atlantic Monthly, a “vivid serpent or tapestried lizard in one hand, and the best grade of Japanese paintbrush in the other.”9 At a time when many working women were relegated to secretarial jobs, the women employed as artists for the DTR—including Isabel Cooper, Anna Taylor, Rachel Hartley, Helen Damrosch Tee-Van, and Else Bostelmann—eschewed mundane office work in favor of the excitement that came with working in the field. The DTR gave these women a platform for making meaningful contributions to science. Some DTR artists accompanied Beebe for an expedition or two; others returned year after year. All of them cultivated their own artistic practices outside of their work for the DTR. Anna Taylor was a printmaker and fabric designer, Helen Damrosch Tee-Van worked in the decorative arts, and many of them illustrated children’s books. Their experiences in Beebe’s field stations filtered into what they produced, sending the ideas and aesthetics they formed in the tropics and on floating laboratories into broad contexts and new juxtapositions. This is not to say that Beebe was necessarily a paragon of feminist values by today’s standards. In a 1932 article, Beebe explains that he sought assistants who were “adaptable scientific students who fall in with my plans, and sometimes women offer me just those qualities.”10 But in the same article, Beebe argued that it was “what is above their ears” that determined his staff choices, and his esteem for these women was certainly born out in the leadership roles they played within the group: Hollister led the DTR’s 1936 expedition to British Guiana, and it was Crane who became the DTR’s Assistant Director, and eventually Beebe’s chosen successor upon his death. In addition to the women on the DTR’s staff, Beebe encouraged the careers of influential scientists such as Sylvia Earle and Rachel Carson. Beebe featured Carson’s work as the last essay in his influential compendium of biologist’s writings The Book of Naturalists




Isabel Cooper, “Wild-Animal Painting in the Jungle,” The Atlantic Monthly 133 (1924): 733. “Seeks Girls with Ideas,” World Telegram (May 1929), Gloria Hollister Scrapbook, WCS Archive.

Exploratory Works: Drawings from the Department of Tropical Research Field Expeditions  

The Drawing Center's Drawing Papers, Volume 132, featuring a foreword by George Schaller, an Introduction and Timeline by Mark Dion, Katheri...

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