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« Field Book of Ponds and Streams »

I have another incredible vintage field guide to share with you: Field Book of Ponds and Streams, by Ann Haven Morgan (published 1930).

This gorgeous book is filled with beautiful illustrations, colored plates with identifications on tissue-paper overlays, and, as typical with the vintage guides, beautiful and entertaining text.

This is another book recommended by Tamia Nelson, who says about it,

“It was published almost 80 years ago, but it’s still one of the most comprehensive — and handiest — guides to freshwater life.”

As always, I bought my copy for less than a dollar used on Amazon — if you are interested, keep your eyes peeled for inexpensive copies there or on one of the other used internet book sites (e.g., abebooks) or in your local used bookstore. Remember that field guides are for using in the field! So you don’t need a perfect copy. (Although this book is so lovely, that wouldn’t be a bad thing — except you’d be afraid to ruin it!)

We’ve been using this book to look up some of the water bugs and other creatures we dredged up when we collected water for the tadpolarium, but we’re going to sit down and just start reading it beginning to end. It’s that good!

This book began in ponds where frogs sat on the lily-pads and by swift brooks from which mayflies lew forth at twilight. It originated where water plants and animals live and I hope that it may be a guide into the vividness and variety of their ways. Most of all I hope that it may help toward wider enjoyment and further acquaintance in the field of water biology that offers abundant opportunity to all explorers, both beginners and seasoned investigators. — from the Preface


Amphibians are timid animals and their chief defense is in flight or concealment. They do not bite and they neither scratch nor sting. None of our native species is poisonous or harmful. It is true that the skin of a maltreated toad gives off a milky fluid which is peppery and irritating; any dog which picks up a toad usually drops it quickly, but is rarely badly poisoned by it. — Chapter XVIII: Amphibians

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Reader Comments (18)

Just some book thoughts for you. Sand County Almanac and A Trail Through the Leaves. Probably already in your arsenal but they seem to fit with where you guys are heading.

June 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

This is another book I'd love to get my hands on (for cheap). :)

In the meantime, I found it online here:

June 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSherry

Thank you for sharing such an amazing find with us, I will have to keep a look out for that one, looks wonderful.

June 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha

thank you for the recommendations, stacey! i’m familiar with sand county almanac but not a trail through the leaves — looking forward to seeing it! :^)

sherry, that’s fantastic! thank you so much! :^D (and “for cheap” is always my top priority, lol ;^)

thank you, samantha! :^)

June 3, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

Wow, very cool! I will have to keep a look out for such great finds...

June 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren


June 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterestea

Wow thanks for sharing. I love the beauty of your blog.

June 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkristin

thank you! :^)

June 4, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

I love the art work in the old guides...
Thanks for sharing!

June 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

i do, too! and the writing is so much more lyrical — less dumbed-down, too, usually. :^)

June 5, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

Oh that looks like a lovely addition to our books. We here were just looking through my dad's GoldenBook about Ponds and admiring the illustrations and compact information. We have a couple from that series out of the 70's I think.

June 5, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermylittlesoapbox

the golden book series is wonderful! the 70s were a magic time for kid books — love the illustrations in so many of them.

i just bought a whole other series of guides … i have a sickness …

but srsly, as hobbies go, at least it’s educational, right?! :^)

June 5, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

Wonderful! We have a vintage field guide to trees that we just love--in fact, we considered donating it to our library recently (for their annual book sale) but I couldn't part with it (or its gorgeous colored plates!)

June 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Ooh, you always find the BEST books!! I can't hold this at my library as it's at the reference desk, pooh! I'll try amazon, it looks like a keeper! Thanks for sharing this one :)

June 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith

jessica, oh my, you are generous! :^) what is the title?

meredith, thank you! :D i am addicted to the old guides, that’s for sure. and it is a keeper! we love it!

June 10, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

Our vintage tree book is:

The New Nature Library: Vol.1 Trees
The Tree Book: A Popular Guide to a Knowledge of The Trees of North America & To Their Uses and Cultivation
by Julia Ellen Rogers
Doubleday, Page & Company 1923

I imagine there are more titles available--as it is from The New Nature Library and their are illustrations of flowers, plants, mushrooms & animals on the cover. Can you image what the whole library must be like--very cool, I'll bet!

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Lori, I keep meaning to tell you that our favorite "field guide" is the Sunset Magazine Western Butterflies book published 1961. Big vintage color and black and white illos of each butterfly, perfect for someone Seth's age. I really like the older ones you are finding. + a

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlis

jessica, i am going to keep my eyes peeled for a reasonably priced copy!

every time i find a good series i want them all. :^) i am building a collection of the old green, hardback peterson guides — love them!

i just bought a very inexpensive, wonderful tree guide — i’m going to post about it this week!

alis, the butterfly guide sounds wonderful — i immediately looked on amazon to see if they had a copy but alas, none right now. i’m putting it on my list!

June 12, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

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