DELAWARE, Ohio – A book co-authored by Ohio Wesleyan University zoology professor Edward H. “Jed” Burtt Jr. is one of seven finalists for the 2014 Ohioana Book Award for Nonfiction. The Ohioana Awards are among the oldest and most prestigious in the country, having recognized more than 1,100 Ohio authors, artists, and musicians since 1942.
Burtt, Ph.D., wrote the biography, “Alexander Wilson: The Scot Who Founded American Ornithology,” with William E. Davis Jr., Ph.D., professor emeritus of natural sciences and mathematics at Boston University. Published in 2013, their book tells the story of Wilson’s exploration of the United States in the early 1800s to document its bird species.
The result of Wilson’s efforts was a nine-volume illustrated encyclopedia that identified 80 percent of the bird species in eastern North America. In the book, Burtt and Davis contend that Wilson, rather than the more well-known John James Audubon, is the founder of American ornithology.
In his review for The Times Literary Supplement, publisher Jeremy Mynott – also a bird enthusiast – states that Burtt and Davis make a strong and convincing case for Wilson.
“The drawings themselves are attractive and persuasive evidence for the authors’ claims about Wilson’s originality and importance,” Mynott states. “The authors and publishers have done full justice to these illustrations in this handsome volume and they are beautifully laid out and reproduced.”
Burtt, a professor at Ohio Wesleyan for nearly 40 years, retired at the end of the 2013-2014 academic year. In 2011, he was named Ohio Professor of the Year by the national Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In 2013, he earned the Margaret Morse Nice Medal, the premier ornithological award bestowed by the Wilson Ornithological Society, in recognition of his lifetime of contributions.
The 2014 Ohioana Book Award winners will be announced in July and the awards presented in October at the Ohio Statehouse. Learn more about the awards at www.ohioana.org/awards. Read more about Burtt and the Ohio Wesleyan Department of Zoology at zoology.owu.edu.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private, coed university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, minors, and concentrations, and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world practice. OWU’s 1,850 students represent 42 states and 37 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.