Natural History is a term used well into the Modern Era to cover biological and geological sciences. The term comes from the traditional division of knowledge into the Humanities, and studies of Nature. The Natural Sciences were further divided into Natural Philosophy, sciences which were considered largely analytical such as physics and chemistry, and Natural History, which described creatures and objects found in nature. A scientist who studied Natural History was called a Naturalist.
Many Naturalists of the 18th and 19th Centuries were Gentleman Scientists, dabbling in scientific research, rather than professional researchers and scholars.
Since the 19th Century, fields of science have become more specialized and the the terms Natural History and Naturalist have fallen out of use.
Some Prominent Naturalists
Game and Story Use
- In a historical or time-travel campaign set in the early 19th Century or earlier, the PCs might encounter a Naturalist in the course of their adventures, collecting animal specimens in a remote region of the globe.
- The PCs might be hired to accompany such a Naturalist.
- Or a scientifically-inclined character might be a Naturalist, giving him a reason to travel to exotic locations.