Mischievous Creatures

6:00 p.m. ET

Thursday, December 14, 2023
6:00 p.m. ET (Reception at 5:30)

Free and open to the public. 
Register to attend.

Benjamin Franklin Hall
427 Chestnut Street 
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Watch the live stream at 6 p.m. on December 14

cover of mischievous creatures

Mischievous Creatures (Basic Books, 2023) is the story of Margaretta Hare Morris and Elizabeth Carrington Morris, two women who transformed American science in the nineteenth century. Famous for her work with seventeen-year cicadas, Margaretta was an entomologist whose discoveries of insects and their impacts on farms and orchards led to her becoming one of the first women elected to both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Margaretta’s older sister Elizabeth was a botanist who preferred anonymity to accolades. Even still, she became a trusted expert of Philadelphia’s flora who supplied the country’s leading botanists with plants, while also illustrating scientific books and articles, and authoring articles in popular science journals. Despite the important roles they played in their fields, despite being pathbreakers, both Margaretta and Elizabeth have been forgotten. Mischievous Creatures is not only about remembering their lives and work, but also about probing into why they have been forgotten, tracing the multiple ways that their legacies were lost. Their erasure becomes a larger story about the transformation of American science and the ways narratives and memorialization honored some while forgetting others.

Catherine McNeur (Ph.D., Yale University, 2012) is an associate professor of history at Portland State University. She is the award-winning author of Taming Manhattan: Environmental Battles in the Antebellum City (Harvard University Press, 2014).