The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Once and For All, the Chicken or the Egg?
As she often does, independent historian and Smithsonian Archives research fellow, Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette, stumbled on a gem as she was searching in the morgue files of the Science Service organization (LaFollette is the researcher who in the past brought us stunning discoveries in the Science Service files of photographs related to the Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes Trial and women in science portraits). This time, she found a carbon copy of a ca. 1922-1923 poem by chemist and science writer Helen Miles Davis (1896-1957), who married journalist Watson Davis in 1919, a year after she had graduated from George Washington University’s College of Engineering. Watson Davis was the Science Service news organization’s managing director. As this is the season of rabbits and eggs, we thought you'd like to read these witty words on the age-old debate. EGG AND CHICKEN A LA DARWIN
In life’s long weary changing, Some million years ago Old Dad Gorilla’s garden Knew no chicken as a foe. For there was no gorilla To have one then, you know, But sliding through the underbrush There was a snake or so. Now snake eggs are a thing you’ve seen Whenever springtime came, And reptiles, in that far-off time, They laid them just the same; The glyptodon and dinosaur, With wide and gaping maws, And feathered archaeopteryx With teeth within its jaws And since these creatures all laid eggs In that primeval slime, The egg before the chicken Was the order of the time. (Notation on poem from Helen M. Davis) This settles once and for all the burning question anent the priority of the egg or the chicken, but on the subject: “which came first, the dinosaur or the egg?” we decline to be interviewed.
by Helen M. Davis, ca 1922-1923