Eldon George was 26 years old when he first met Donald Baird. It was 1957, the same year that the National Geographic article (Great Tides of Fundy) was published. Eldon had been operating the Parrsboro Rock and Mineral Shop for about ten years, collecting minerals and fossils along the Parrsboro Shore. After they met Eldon and Donald Baird developed a lifelong friendship.
In many ways Donald Baird was Eldon’s academic mentor and collaborator. For many years the friendship with Donald encouraged and supported Eldon’s lifelong learning. Donald provided advice about specimens and shared references and information with Eldon. There are letters between the two that provide examples of a positive and encouraging relationship between them. This supporting relationship that would result in important fossil discoveries.
Dr. Donald Baird was the Curator at the Princeton Museum of Natural History from 1957 through 1988. Throughout his career he visited Nova Scotia several times and would often drop in to see Eldon in Parrsboro. In 1955 and 1957 Donald visited Parrsboro as part of a field crew from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. It was during the trip in 1957 that Donald first met Eldon George. See (Donald Baird and his Discoveries, Sues, Hook and Olsen 2013) for more detailed biography.
During the trip in 1957, there were several fossil specimens collected from important sites in Parrsboro. These specimens of fossil fish and amphibian footprints were studied by Baird back at the Princeton Museum of Natural History.
When the Museum at Princeton University was closed in the 1980’s, the fossil collection was distributed to several museums in the United States. Some of the Nova Scotia specimens were transferred to the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University, where they remain today.
You can see the online Museum catalogue listing for this specimen at http://collections.peabody.yale.edu/search/Record/YPM-VPPU-017059 where you can see Eldon listed among the collectors.
Eldon as Citizen Scientist
Throughout his career Eldon would save fossil specimens that he felt were of importance. He would do his own research to try and learn more about the specimens, but also worked collaboratively with researchers from museums and universities in Canada and the United States. It is through these types of relationships that Eldon contributed to citizen science.