The University of Wisconsin Press

Natural History & Environment / Biography / Wisconsin


Mice in the Freezer, Owls on the Porch
The Lives of Naturalists Frederick and Frances Hamerstrom
Helen McGavran Corneli
Foreword by George Archibald

A love story among the prairie chickens

Mice in the Freezer, Owls on the Porch is in many ways a love story—about a quiet scientist and his flamboyant wife, but also about their passions for hunting, for wild lands, and for the grouse and raptor species that they were instrumental in saving from destruction.

From the papers and letters of Frederick and Frances Hamerstrom, the reminiscences of contemporaries, and her own long friendship with this extraordinary couple who were her neighbors, Helen Corneli draws an intimate picture of Fran and "Hammy" from childhood through the genesis and maturation of a romantic, creative, and scientific relationship. Following the Hamerstroms as they give up a life of sophisticated convention and comfort for the more "civilized" (as Aldo Leopold would have it) pleasures of living and conducting on-the-spot research into diminishing species, Corneli captures the spirit of the Hamerstroms, their profession, and the natural and human environments in which they worked. A nuanced account of the labors, adventures, and achievements that distinguished the Hamerstroms over the years—and that inspired a generation of naturalists—this book also provides a dramatic account of conservation history over the course of the twentieth century, particularly in Wisconsin from the 1920s through the 1970s.

"Why were Fran and Hammy so admired and loved? Because of the example they have set. They never forgot that field research is the naturalist's fountain of knowledge and they never stopped asking searching questions."
—Ernst Mayr, Harvard University

Helen McGavran Corneli is professor emerita of English at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. Helen Corneli has been honored with Outstanding Achievement recognition by the Wisconsin Library Association Literary Awards committee for her book Mice in the Freezer, Owls on the Porch: The Lives of Naturalists Frederick and Frances Hamerstrom

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Cover of Corneli's book is two photos of the Hamerstroms, one in a brown duotone, the other in color, with an owl.

September 2006

LC: 2002002338 QH
368 pp.  6 x 9
43 b/w photos

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Paper $24.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-18094-2
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Updated November 8, 2011

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