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Home North Carolina Guilford County City of Greensboro Historical Markers T. Gilbert Pearson 1873-1943

T. Gilbert Pearson 1873-1943

Battleground Avenue at Fisher Street, Greensboro, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 36° 4' 47.154", -79° 47' 43.926"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Ornithologist; teacher; internationally honored conservationist. Founded Audubon Society in N.C. Grave is 1/10 mi. N.E."
     Born to Quaker parents in 1873, T. ornithologist Gilbert Pearson lived in Illinois until the family moved to Florida in 1882. As a young boy, Pearson developed a love of nature and taught himself as much as possible about birds, bird eggs and their preservation through taxidermy. Pearson was able to trade his extensive bird collection for a formal education at Guilford College in North Carolina. His donation was the basis for the College’s ornithological collection and he began a life of professional study and activism for his adopted state of North Carolina and his beloved birds.

     After completing his work at Guilford, Pearson continued his education at the University of North Carolina and attended additional classes at Guilford and Harvard. A prolific writer, Pearson penned numerous articles on behalf of preservation for bird species. His activities attracted the interest of the National Audubon Society and in 1902 he helped to establish the Audubon Society of North Carolina. Always an advocate for birds and their protection, Pearson stepped into the role of political activist and lobbied the Governor and legislature for protective laws.

     In 1903 North Carolina created the first state game commission in the South with Pearson as commissioner. For the next six years, he sought to enforce state bird and game laws but in 1909 his abilities were effectively stopped by legislative action and he turned his attention to the national scene, becoming part of the leadership in the National Audubon Society as well as in other national and international bird preservation action groups. In these roles he was able to serve the preservation effort on a national level while working from the outside to aid in the preservation of North Carolina’s wildlife, particularly in coastal regions.

     Pearson continued to write about birds in the state, publishing several books on the topic as well as numerous pamphlets and booklets for the growing Junior Audubon Society. Pearson died in 1943 in New York and his ashes were returned to Greensboro for burial at Green Hill Cemetery.

Oliver H. Orr, Jr., Saving American Birds: T. Gilbert Pearson and the Founding of the Audubon Movement (1992)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 52-54—sketch by Oliver H. Orr, Jr.
M. Albert Linton, “Thomas Gilbert Pearson: Untiring Protector of Birds,” Guilford College Lecture, January 17, 1964
North Carolina Audubon Society Centennial: http://www.ncaudubon.org/Century.htm
Audubon Society Website: http://www.audubon.org/

T. Gilbert Pearson 1873-1943 Historical Marker Location Map, Greensboro, North Carolina