Nature in the lives of Elbląg people
The lives of people have always been inextricably linked to the wider world of nature. It is therefore not surprising that history is full of attempts to understand and describe natural life. In early modern times, one of the ways this manifested itself was the passion for collecting various specimens of nature. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Europeans – and among them the inhabitants of Elbląg – were particularly interested in things that were rare, exotic, extraordinary and monstrous. In the 18th century, in turn, we see a clear tendency to discover the domestic, obvious, proper and ordinary. The early modern cabinets of curiosities were gradually replaced by the institution of the museum, where collections were clearly ordered according to strict rules. An important aspect of the natural sciences in the 18th and 19th centuries was the popularization of scientific discoveries among the general public. The study of nature became more accessible to the middle classes and we have many interesting diaries and scrapbooks of Elbląg residents in which they report their observations of nature. One of them was created by an anonymous woman from the 1820s (Tagebuch einer Elbingerin), who not only wrote about her natural history interests, but also kept the dried plants between the pages of her notebook. In Elbląg, the inhabitants interested in nature also founded associations: for example, the Naturheilverein was founded in 1894 and the Verein für heimatliche Naturkunde in 1927.