Mary Treat: A Biography book signing at Graycewyngs
A book signing for Mary Treat: A Biography was held at Graycewyngs Gardens and Interiors on Dec. 21. The book was written by Hammonton resident Deborah Boerner Ein. People stopped by at Graycewyngs to have their book signed in addition to having a couple conversations with Boerner Ein as they discussed the book and the life and impact that Mary Treat, a Vineland resident, had.
The book was a result of four years of research conducted by Boerner Ein. Boerner Ein said she first heard about Mary Treat back in 2008 to 2009 when SNJ Today’s history columnist wrote an article about Treat, which immediately intrigued Boerner Ein.
Treat was a 19th century naturalist and made contributions to the fields of entomolgy and botany. She is known for her extensive correspondence especially with other scientists including Charles Darwin.
“I was immediately intrigued because, I too, have a science background and she was a botanist and entomologist who lived and worked in Vineland and she corresponded with all of the male figures of the day and scientific figures, including Charles Darwin,” Boerner Ein said.
Boerner Ein and her husband moved to Hammonton in 1990. Boerner Ein was originally from the Mays Landing area and was splitting the commute between her husband’s job and her job, which was to Pennsylvania at the time.
Before Boerner Ein published Mary Treat: A Biography, Treat’s name was actually mentioned beforehand in a book called Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, which was published in 2018. Treat was fictionalized in the book and, according to the biography’s blurb, many were curious and wanted to learn more about Treat since then.
In the biography, Boerner Ein told the story of Treat through letters from prominent botanists, entomologists and other scientists which included letters from Darwin, correspondence with editors and publishers, friends and family, professional and personal documents and treat’s own published works, according to the biography’s blurb. Boerner Ein also acquired her source materials from newspapers.com and old newspapers from the 19th century as well as from the Charles Darwin Correspondence Project.
“I was pretty much able to do everything online and it’s a good thing because it was during pandemic times so all of these places were closed. I had done all of my research down in Vineland right before the pandemic hit so I was able to just sit down and gather everything that I had and to just write at that point and that worked out, I called it my pandemic project,” Boerner Ein laughed.
According to an SNJ Today article by Jane Morton Galetto provided by Boerner Ein, Treat is considered one of the pioneering women involved in bringing nature to a broader audience. Treat and her husband moved to Vineland seven years after its founding by Charles K. Landis. Boerner Ein brought attention to Landis’s aspirations and vision for Vineland, stating it to be “a utopian village of farming, industry, business, churches, schools and meeting places where its residents could engage in a free and open exchange of progressive ideas. The Vineland layout of farms and tree lined streets surely would have caught Mary’s attention.” Landis was also one of the founders of Hammonton.
The book gives context to Treat’s life in southern New Jersey and offers a glimpse into southern New Jersey’s local and national history, according to Boerner Ein from the SNJ Today article. In terms of learning more about Treat, Boerner Ein also suggested reading some of the books written by Treat, of which she wrote four or five books, as well as more than a hundred articles written by Treat.
“Those would be the primary sources that would be read. I do recommend that people read her stuff because she was a prolific writer herself,” Boerner Ein said.
Mary Treat: A Biography can be purchased on Amazon, Lulu and from the website www.marytreat.com. According to the website, the book is ranked #77 top seller on Amazon’s list of natural history books. Future book signings will be announced on the website.