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Nineteenth Century American Views

In the summer of 1858 William James Stillman, artist, writer, photographer, skilled woodsman, and founder of America’s first art magazine, The Crayon, organized a month-long expedition of scholars and writers to Follensby Pond in the Adirondacks, creating what later came to be known as the Philosophers’ Camp. Besides Stillman, the group consisted of two writers, Ralph Waldo Emerson, James Russell Lowell; two scientists, Louis Agassiz and Jeffries Wyman; two lawyers, Ebenezer Hoar and Horatio Woodman; two doctors, Estes Howe and Amos Binney, as well as John Holmes, the younger brother of writer Oliver Wendell Holmes. Though they practiced in a variety of professional disciplines, they all shared a reverence for nature and a common view of the importance of natural beauty to artistic and intellectual creativity. One of the earliest photographic documentaries in America, The Forest: Adirondack Woods, a portfolio of twelve photographs that describe the camp and the surrounding woods, was presented by Stillman to each of campers.