The Dinosaur Tracks of Dexter Marsh: Greenfield's Lost Museum, 1846-1853
Herbert, Robert L.
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This publication is the first biography of Dexter Marsh (1806-1853), a quarrier, stonemason and janitor of Greenfield whose short life culminated in the opening of his own museum of dinosaur tracks. From 1846 to 1853, more than 3,000 people signed the visitors’ registers of his house-museum, including Oliver Wendell Holmes, F. G. Tuckerman, Austin Dickinson, Edward Hitchcock and many prominent geologists. Dispersed at public auction, Marsh’s museum has been lost from sight and Marsh himself has seldom been mentioned, although he was the first discoverer of the dinosaur footprints (then thought to be bird tracks) of the Connecticut River Valley. He was the principal supplier of specimens of the tracks to the scientific world. The new publication provides a biography supported by his daybooks and visitors’ registries and by appendices that reprint all known letters from his hand, two eyewitness accounts of his life, and the auction of his museum.