Joseph Leidy Microscopy Portal

What is this page?

I wrote an article for Micscape on Joseph Leidy and his 1879 masterpiece,  'Fresh-Water Rhizopods of North America'.  I created this page for basically three reasons:

1. Miscape can only handle articles, and their supporting images and files, of reasonable size, and I wanted to offer more to the readers and to searchers on the web.  

2. There are already some good resources on the web to support the article, but since hyperlinks can be so ephemeral, this 'portal' allows me some control to keep the links active and updated rather than have them 'cast in stone' once the article is published. 

3. I wanted to focus on Leidy's 1879 work -- 'Fresh-Water Rhizopods . . .' -- in the article but didn't want to short-change readers who wanted to learn more of Leidy and of Leidy's other microscope related works.  

So I hope the resources and links below are useful.  Click a link in the table below, or scroll through.

Leidy, the man Leidy's work lives on:
Leidy, as seen from the eyes of a friend    The Parasites of Termites
Leidy's work in microscopy    A Flora and Fauna within Living Animals
Leidy's biography    Fresh-Water Rhizopods of North America
Leidy's microscope       The Introduction
Leidy's drawings       Plates & Keys
        Concluding Remarks

Leidy, the man:

A really short bio of Leidy:

A short bio of Leidy:

The Academy of Natural Science’s excellent online exhibit on Leidy:  -- a must see!

Leidy, as seen from the eyes of a friend:

William Hunt, a close friend and colleague of Leidy, gave two wonderful speeches.  Both are poignant, and amusing, and filled with wonderful stories as only a friend could tell.  

Note:  The below are scans of my original copy of these addresses

Click on the thumbnails below to read Hunt's 'Personal History' address given at the Academy of Natural Sciences, May 12, 1891, 12 days after Leidy's death.

Pages 49-54
Pages 55-60

Later ( Nov. 17, 1891 ), Hunt gave a longer address on Leidy's university career before the alumni and students of The Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania.  Click on the thumbnail below to read this enjoyable account.

Pages 7-12
Pages 13-18
Pages 19-24
Pages 25-30
Pages 31-36
Pages 37-43

 Leidy's work in microscopy:

Lynn Margulis’ engrossing article in Natural History Magazine, June 2005, that uses Leidy’s work as a backdrop:

Bowser Lab’s FORAMINIFERA citation of Leidy’s work (in the ‘Family Ties: Forams and their relatives’ section): and also

Andre Wier and Lynn Margulis’ ‘The wonderful lives of Joseph Leidy’ article:

Leidy's biography:

Joseph Leidy: The Last Man Who Knew Everything by Leonard Warren, Yale University Press (October 11, 1998), 320 pages.  (Note: Good used copies can be found at, or, often for as little as $8 - 10 USD)

Leidy's microscope:

His first microscope may have been a Hartnack, possibly one like this: (Note: #86 on this page of auction results -- click the photos  to see)  Certainly it was of this vintage because Leidy first was introduced to the microscope by a colleague in 1841 and received his own instrument shortly after from his mother for his birthday.

    Don't know who Hartnack was?  See here:

But Leidy had many microscopes through the years.

In 1879, in the Introduction to 'Rhizopods', he recommended, and indicated he used,  Beck's Economic Microscope: (Note: #5021, image on the 7th page, with actual description and 1880 price on the 8th page)   

The binocular version can be found here:

Also, he also mentioned, in 'Rhizopods', that a small Hartnack, received from a friend for his 50th birthday and kept on his study table, was the instrument that launched his interest and passion for the study of Rhizopods.  It may have been something like this:

    Want to see how much in today's dollars 'Beck's Economic Scope' above would have cost?  See  or  (Note:  Particularly telling is the graph of 'Average Yearly Wages Per Worker' in Chicago about a third of the way down on the 2nd link.  I figure that the $50 Beck's Economic Microscope Leidy mentions in the introduction to 'Rhizopods'  would cost about $4000 USD today -- thus new, basic, scopes, from major manufacturers, have decreased in price to about 1/3rd or 1/4th of what they were in 1880.  Do you agree?  What do you come up with?)

Leidy's drawings:

A small sampling can be found here (albeit, low res scans):

Leidy's work lives on:

There are at least three of Leidy's microscopy related works that are still referred to today in research articles:

    ‘The Parasites of Termites’

    Note: Unfortunately, not found on-line anywhere that I can see.  But be sure to read: 

    ‘A Flora and Fauna within Living Animals’

Note: Google has begun offering 'full view' scans of books and publications that have come into the public domain and as a result, happily, you can read 'A Flora and Fauna within Living Animals' right here (in "Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge", published in 1916).  You don't want to miss the drawings ('plates') at the back (although, these are low res scans).   Also, available at 'The Internet Archive' here at much better resolution.

    'Rhizopods of North America'

See the announcement of Leidy's 'Rhizopods . .'  in the 'New Publications' section of the July 1880 issue of 'The Manufacturer and Builder' here.

If you want to own the original book, search for copies on -- sometimes can be purchased for $70-80 USD, but more often found in the $120 -150 USD price range.  

But, you are welcome to just read it, on-line, here.  I 'sacrificed' my original 1879 copy of 'Rhizopods' by separating all the pages and plates for scanning.  Also, you can download a copy at 'The Internet Archive' here.

You can have access to the full book at the link below -- click on the 'Entrance' graphic.

But, if you just want some highlights, continue below where you can enter and read the book at three key points.

The 'Introduction' to 'Rhizopods' (and the 'Conclusion'), are fascinating reading, giving many details of Leidy's collecting and study methods as well as interesting insights into his thinking, broad knowledge, and passion for his subject. 

The Introduction (Please click on the thumbnail below to start reading at the first page of the 21-page Introduction):

The magnificent Plates & Keys of the book are considered masterpieces of both science and art.

Plates & Keys

Please click on the thumbnail below to start reading at the 'Plates' thumbnail page.  (Note: The 'key' to Plate 1 has an introduction to the plates you'll want to read.)

Leidy concludes his great work.

Concluding Remarks (Please click on the thumbnail below to start reading at the first page of the 2-page Conclusion):

Back to the P.S. Neeley AO Spencer Microscope Page
The images, articles, and concepts of this page are copyrighted by P.S. Neeley -- copyright 2006