Johann Reinhold Forster was appointed to be the main naturalist for Captain Cook’s Second Voyage in June 1772. Together with his 17 year-old son George, a talented painter and fellow naturalist, he sailed in Resolution.
After their return from a successful voyage JR Forster spent the years from 1780 in Halle (Saale), Prussia. He was installed there as professor of natural history and professor of medicine. And he was appointed as Director of the Botanical Garden of the famous University of Halle. He died on 9 December, 1798, and was buried at the “Stadtgottesacker”, the main graveyard.
In 2013, German CCS members tried to find the grave in Halle, but didn’t succeed. Forster’s grave had not been clearly marked, and the information about where his grave was thought to be turned out to be wrong. Over the last year local research, mainly undertaken by Bernd Hofestädt, has uncovered the story behind the final resting place of JR Forster.
Together with the local authorities in Halle, German members of the Captain Cook Society collected money for a plaque to commemorate this important man. He was a renowned scientist and researcher of his time, a well-read and multi-talented naturalist, who has been neglected over the past centuries, even in Germany.
The German branch of the CCS thought it worthwhile and appropriate to organise a meeting to accompany the unveiling of the commemorative plaque for JR Forster at Halle’s Stadtgottesacker.
As with the tradition of the CCS meetings held at Marton, UK, the weekend event started on Friday evening, 6 May, when CCS members met in downtown Halle, a wonderful University city with a rich history. We happily exchanged our news, especially about Cook, Forster and our last trips. The next day was going to be filled with lots of highlights: unveiling of the plaque, viewing of a log book kept in Resolution, a symposium with several talks, and a superb dinner.