Among the many benefits of the internet is wealth of information available from the comfort of your home, or even mobile device. One of the really cool things that organizations like Biodiversity Heritage Library, Internet Archive, and Project Gutenberg offer is a treasure trove of out of print books, journals, and information. The Internet Archive has a copy of the book “The Flora of Tennessee and a Philosphy of Botany” written by Augustin Gattinger and published in 1901. It is always exciting to have information on historic plant distribution, taxonomy, and botanic community composition. I look forward to utilizing the flora as I explore my new home.
Even more exciting is the Philosophy of Botany portion of this book. To read the portion of the book where Augustin is arguing passionately for the creation of the Appalachian National Park (Great Smoky Mountain NP) is inspiring and has much to offer anyone interested in conservation and conservation history. The section that begins on page 263: “Modern thoughts on Origin, Evolution and Significance of Life” is a century-old call for reason, enlightenment, and a scientific theosophy – in which a higher criticism is brought to religion. This is all the more impressive when you consider the publisher of this fine book is The Gospel Advocate Publishing Company of Nashville, TN. I hope that my travels in Tennessee bring me more insight into Augustin and I find more of his writing and works. For now, I am grateful that somebody thought digitizing an old flora was a good idea.