Columbia history professor William R. Leach’s interests cross over many fields—and meadows too. As a lifelong butterfly collector, Leach has traversed open fields, streambeds and orchards in pursuit of the flying insects whose metamorphosis from fuzzy caterpillar to beautiful winged creature has inspired generations of artists and poets.Now he has parlayed his experience into a book showing how butterfly collecting was at the heart of America’s enthusiasm for the natural world in the decades after the Civil War. In Butterfly People: An American Encounter with the Beauty of the World, the cultural historian takes readers on a journey to a time before the arts and sciences were clearly separated, and aesthetics played an important role in the pursuit of knowledge about Lepidoptera—moths and butterflies.