Representation of Wilson Bentley's Work
on Wilson Bentley's Work
as Portrayed in the Seven Figures
by Duncan C. Blanchard
most of the information required to make these figures from Wilson Bentley's
notebooks. Since he gave the date each snow crystal photograph was taken,
and numbered them sequentially from No. 1 on January 15, 1885 to No.
5,381 on March 1, 1931, it was a straightforward though laborious job
to obtain the necessary information.
of Snow Crystal Photos per Year
the most interesting figures are those showing the number of snow crystals
Bentley photographed each year and the maximum number photographed in
one day. As might be expected, both increased steadily as the years
went by, indicating that Bentley was becoming far more efficient and
taking less time to take his photographs. His best year was in 1919
when he photographed 338 snow crystals
of Crystals Photographed in One Day
The maximum number photographed in one day was on February 10, 1928,
when Bentley, in a Herculean effort, worked throughout the snowstorm,
barely stopping to eat, to obtain 67 photographs. He said that the storm,
which had started the day before on his sixty-third birthday, was ".
. . a birthday gift from kind Winter."
Number of Working
A working day is a day when Bentley photographed at least one snow crystal.
Though the number generally was between 5 and 15 per year, the years
from 1916 through 1920 saw a higher than average number of working days,
reaching a maximum of 27 in 1916.
of Photos Per Working Day
Though the number of working days per year did not increase significantly
from about 1900 until his death in 1931, the average number of photographs
per working day did increase, suggesting that he was becoming more efficient
in taking the photographs
(inches/year) in Jericho, Vermont, or Snow Crystal Photos/yr.
Though the amount of snowfall did not increase significantly over Bentley's
lifetime, the number of photographs per year did.
Number of Photos
Per Inch of Snow
Although the number increased steadily from 1885 to 1900, from then
on the number showed large variations, from about 0.2 to nearly 3.
Articles By Bentley/Articles
of interesting facts are revealed by this figure. A total of 103 articles
were used in making the graphs, but I suspect that other articles remain
to be discovered in old magazines and newspapers. Prior to 1916 Bentley
published 30 articles, while nearly the same number, 31, were published
after 1916. Of these 61 articles, 50 appeared in newspapers and magazines,
while 11 were published in technical journals of his day, primarily
the Monthly Weather Review. Of the magazine and newspaper articles written
about Bentley, only 3 appeared before 1916, while 42 were written after
1916. This great increase in numbers after 1916 was a result of Bentley's
fame spreading far beyond the borders of Vermont.
more information can be found about Bentley in my book "The
Snowflake Man," published in 1998 by the McDonald & Woodward Publishing
Company. If any readers have questions about these figures, or any questions
about Bentley, they can contact me at my e-mail