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William Jennings, Pioneer Work in Photography of Lightning, 1930

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Jennings' pioneering work in photography coincided with the rise of print media and publication. The ability of scientists to publish their work sparked an intellectual discourse of sorts, as scientists from all over the globe began reading and responding in writing to the work of their colleagues. The publication of his work caused Jennings' name to circulate among well-known scientists of his day, and many of these men sent congratulatory notes in response to his articles and photographs. Joseph Leidy, the father of American vertebrate paleontology, said of Jennings' photography: "It is truly excellent, I had no idea such could be taken." A meaningful compliment from a man who unearthed the fossils of dinosaurs! John Tyndall, physicist and natural philosopher, sent warm thanks to Jennings upon receipt of one of his photographs: "I owe you, and offer you, my very best thanks for the exquisite photograph of lightning which you have been good enough to send me. Nothing so beautiful as your successes in this line ever came under my observation." Pulled from The Franklin Institute archives, an essay on "The Work of William N. Jennings in the Photography of Lightning" includes many detailed responses to Jennings' publication.

You can read the full text of this essay by clicking on the thumbnails at right.

You can also peruse the minutes of The Franklin Institute Committee on Science and the Arts meeting, detailing the discussion surrounding Jennings' nomination for an award from the Institute. The minutes reference a number of letters written by Jennings' contemporaries in support of his work.