Ex libris Charles Atwood Kofoid

Bookplate, reads "Ex-libris Charles Atwood Kofoid" in Geographische Geschichte des Menschen.

Bookplate, reads “Ex-libris Charles Atwood Kofoid” in Geographische Geschichte des Menschen.

Occasionally we come across a book with an interesting provenance, or history of ownership, that we didn’t know we had. Recently our reference specialist came upon a book in our collections with the bookplates of Charles Atwood Kofoid. A quick Google search informed her that Kofoid was an American zoologist of some note.

Kofoid (1865-1947) was a zoologist at University of California, Berkeley. He classified many new species of marine protozoans, and he was an early supporter of the creation of a marine station in La Jolla, California, first called the Marine Biological Association of San Diego, which later became Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He served as the assistant director at Scripps from 1903-1923. His papers are held at University of California, San Diego and the Bancroft Library at University of California, Berkeley. For photographs of Kofoid, see UC San Diego’s digital collection.

The title page and bookplate of Geographische Geschichte des Menschen.

The title page and bookplate of Geographische Geschichte des Menschen.

And the book? It is a copy of Geographische Geschichte des Menschen, und der allgemein verbreiteten vierfüssigen thiere : nebst einer hieher gehörigen zoologischen weltcharte by Eberhardt August Wilhelm von Zimmermann, published in Leipzig, Germany, in 1778 (call number: QL711 Z65g). It is a work of zoogeography, a field that studies the geographical distribution of animals.  Zimmerman was a German geographer and zoologist who traveled widely throughout Europe and was one of the first to publish books in this field.

Now comes the question, how do we happen to have this particular book in our collections? While we don’t have detailed records of all our acquisitions, a clue comes from the biography of Kofoid. He was born in Iowa’s neighboring state of Illinois, and worked for a number of years (1897-1903) as superintendent of the Illinois River Biological Station. Following that, in 1904-1905, he traveled with Alexander Agassiz on the Albatross Expedition as a planktonologist. Perhaps before his travels, he sold off some of his books, and this title made its way into the collections of Iowa State University Library.

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