History of the Butterfly, Part 29: Helen Rambles


Rambles After Land Shells is a very unusual book.  First notice the publisher—The American Tract Society.  That publisher primarily publishes religious books, and has for most of its history.

The time frame is notable as well.  The book was published in 1863.  At that time, the Parker’s had not yet moved to Iowa and found the butterfly.  Henry was the pastor of a church at the time of this book’s publication, so Helen was fulfilling the role of the Pastor’s wife.   If you remember your history, what else was going on about that time?  That’s right, the American Civil War.  This book was published during the middle of the Civil war.

Both Henry’s writings and Helen’s writings were permeated with religious references—mentions of God, the Bible, etc.  In fact, a number of the writings from other authors of the time have a similar mind-set.  So the religious nature is not so unusual.

This book seems to have been specifically written for religious instruction, and published by a publisher of religious books.  What does the Bible or Christianity have to say about land snails?  As far as I know, nothing.  Why write a religious book about looking for snail shells?

Have I mentioned that one of my other obsessions has been with land snails?  I have photographed snails and tried to identify them.  When I read Rambles after Land Shells I already had a little bit of knowledge on the subject.  And I could recognize some of the subjects.  Helen Parker wrote about snails in a way that I could understand that she had a very good knowledge of the subject.

In fact, in the preface to her book she mentions that she collected sixty varieties of land shells over a few weeks visit to central New York, which she displayed in a cabinet. 

So Helen must have been sort of a snail geek.  She wrote a book for Sunday school because that was what she did.  She made it about snails for no other reason than that she was interested in them herself.


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
This entry was posted in Helen Fitch Parker, Henry W. Parker, Iowa History, oarisma poweshiek, snails, The History of the Butterfly, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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