Nature and Man: The Warm Philosophy of Dr. Church

Explore several facets of Dr. Church's work and approach to nature

Dr. Church's mission and vision

The phrase “nature and man” encapsulates Dr. Church’s mission and vision. In his Greenland expedition diaries describing his second expedition to Greenland in 1927-1928, Dr. Church wrote of his colleague Helge Bangsted, “We have much in common and seek similar ends. ‘Poems and love stories’ are his. Nature and man are mine” (vol. 3, p. 22-23). On another occasion, he and expedition director Dr. William Herbert Hobbs speak of their shared love of Greenland and its people. Dr. Church writes, “With the [Inuit], he [Hobbs] feels that ‘Nature is great, but man is greater.’ But to me ‘Man is great and Nature infinite’” (vol. 1, p. 32). He did not value one above the other, but sought to benefit both.

Dig deeper

Explore the physical papers

The Special Collections and University Archives Department holds the James Edward Church Papers, including the Greenland expedition diaries.

The full collection is described in the finding aid.

View materials online

In the past, only a limited sample of Dr. Church's papers was available for viewing online. The ongoing project to systematically digitize materials from the collection grew out of a partnership with the Church family and involved a team drawn from departments throughout the Libraries.

About the exhibit

A hybrid experience

This site serves as a digital component to accompany the physical exhibit entitled “The Incredible Dr. Church: From Classics Professor to the Father of Snow Surveying.” The physical exhibit debuted at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, and is now on display at the Prim Library at the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe.

Digital exhibit credits

  • Shelly Johnson- Curation and text
  • Digital Services team- Digitized images

Works cited

Dr. Church pulling sled with goods while leaving Big Meadows Cabin, James Edward Church Papers, NC96_22_53_6_2.

Greenland expedition diaries: volume 1, James Edward Church Papers, NC96_13_3_1.

Greenland expedition diaries: volume 3, James Edward Church Papers, NC96_13_4_1.

Print of hand-drawn portrait of Dr. Church in Greenland by Arla Knudsen, James Edward Church Papers, NC96_22_72_30.