Photographer and scientist Wilson Bentley (1865 – 1931) took more than five thousand micrographs of falling winter snow crystals outdoors at his home in Jericho, Vermont. His passion began in his teenage years, and after much trial and error, he photographed his first snowflake on January 15, 1885, the first known photograph of its kind. This became his life’s work, and despite many hardships, he pursued his meticulous craft until finally, in 1931, his book Snow Crystals was published. (It is still in print today.) Later that same year, “Snowflake” Bentley, as he came to be known, succumbed to pneumonia after walking home six miles in a blizzard.
These images represent part of his incredible collection, acquired by The University of Wisconsin-Madison, and available online via the Schwerdtfeger Library (Bentley Collection).