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Maurice Brooks (June 16, 1900-January 10, 1993) became West Virginia’s greatest naturalist. He was born into a French Creek family whose name became synonymous with the study of natural history. Those family members included father Fred, an entomologist; uncle, A.B., the legendary naturalist at Wheeling’s Oglebay Park; and uncle Earle, who wrote numerous articles on birds and folklore.

Maurice Brooks graduated from West Virginia University in 1923 with a B.A. degree and in 1934 with an M.S. For several years he taught biology and English at Upshur County High School in Buckhannon. Then he served WVU as professor of biology from 1932 to 1938 and as professor of wildlife management from 1938 until his retirement in 1969.

Maurice Brooks was the first alumnus to receive an honorary doctorate from WVU. He received four other honorary doctorates and was an elected fellow of the American Ornithologists Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1970, he received the Order of Vandalia, the highest honor WVU bestows, and in 1979, the Charleston Gazette named him ‘‘Man of the Year.’’

Brooks’s legacy includes numerous scholarly publications, many newspaper and magazine articles, and two books, The Appalachians (1965) and The Life of the Mountains (1967). In the preface to The Appalachians, Roger Tory Peterson and John A. Livingston wrote, ‘‘To his friends and students he is, indeed, ‘Dr. Appalachia.’ No one knows these mountains more intimately. Although a professor of wildlife management at West Virginia University he is equally knowledgeable about orchids, salamanders, and wood warblers. He is typical of the new breed of all-round naturalists—in other words, an ecologist.’’

This Article was written by Scott Shalaway

Last Revised on October 17, 2023

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Shalaway, Scott "Maurice Brooks." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 17 October 2023. Web. 24 July 2024.


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