Officers & Council 2018
The Council of the Society for the History of Natural History consists of the Officers and nine Councillors. Officers stand for election at the Annual General Meetings of the Society and Councillors serve terms of three years. Council may also co-opt members of Council to serve.
Professor Peter Davis
Mr Geoff Hancock
Mr William Noblett
Mr Herman Reichenbach
Honorary Meetings Secretary
Ms Jo Hatton
The President, Officers, and:
- Mr Jack Ashby +
- Dr Isabelle Charmantier *
- Ms Gina Douglas *
- Dr Clemency Fisher +
- Elle Larsson *
- Maggie Reilly *
- Felicity Roberts *
- Edwin Rose*
+ elected 2016
# elected 2017
* elected 2018
- Ms Laura Brassington (Book Reviews)
- Dr Helen Cowie (Chair, Stearn Essay Panel)
- Ms Miranda Lowe (Membership)
- Dr Malgosia Nowak-Kemp (Representatives)
- Ms Elaine Shaughnessy (Website and Newsletter)
- Professor Ray Williams (Small Research Fund)
Representatives are appointed by Council and are able to attend Council meetings. Their term of appointment is initially for three years, with an annual review by Council. This can be extended as approved by Council.
See the International Representatives‘ page for further details.
The administrative business of the Society is the responsibility of the Officers, supported by contributors. These contributors attend Council meetings as guests to consult on issues relevant to their Society activities and receive Council guidance.
Officer and Council Member Biographies
Mr Jack Ashby
Jack is the Manager of the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge, with strategic overview of their varied activities – developing the Museum as both a valuable academic resource and an excellent public venue, while caring for the collections responsibly. A large area of his work is to find ways to integrate the historic natural history collection and museum space into current academic teaching, research and public engagement programmes across the sciences, arts and humanities. Jack is particularly interested in the natural history of Australia and its mammals (where he regularly undertakes fieldwork), as well as the role of museum collections in the history of the teaching of and public engagement with zoology. Jack is a long-standing committee member and trustee of the Natural Sciences Collections Association.
Dr Isabelle Charmantier
Isabelle is Head of Collections at the Linnean Society of London. She first became involved with SHNH during her PhD on 17th-century ornithology (2005-2008). She was Associate Research Fellow at the Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter, from 2009 to 2013, where she worked on the project ‘Re-Writing the System of Nature: Carl Linnaeus’s Writing Technologies’. Subsequently, she worked at the Linnean Society of London to catalogue Linnaeus’s manuscripts, and then as Information Scientist at the Freshwater Biological Association in Far Sawrey, Ambleside. She was the book reviews editor for Archives of Natural History from 2011 to 2014. Her research interests include the history of early modern natural history, and more specifically the history of ornithology, the history of the book and writing technologies, as well as Carl Linnaeus.
Professor Peter Davis
Peter Davis is Emeritus Professor of Museology in the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies at Newcastle University, UK. He is a long-standing member of the Society for the History of Natural History, has served on Council and acted as Meetings Secretary and Book Reviews Editor. Peter’s research interests include the history of museums; the history of natural history and environmentalism; the interaction between heritage and concepts of place; and ecomuseums. He is the author of several books including Museums and the Natural Environment (1996), Ecomuseums: a sense of place (1999; 2nd edition 2011) and (with Christine Jackson) Sir William Jardine: a life in natural history (2001). He is a member of the Editorial Board of the book series ‘Heritage Matters’, published by Boydell and Brewer and has co-edited five books in the series, most recently Changing Perceptions of Nature (2016) and Heritage and Peacebuilding (2017). With Michelle Stefano he edited The Routledge Companion to Intangible Cultural Heritage, published in early 2017. Peter is perhaps best known to the Society in his role as Honorary Editor of Archives of Natural History from 2012- 2017.
Ms Gina Douglas
Gina Douglas served as Meetings Secretary for the Society for the History of Natural History from 1989-2018. As Librarian and Archivist of the Linnean Society from 1983-2007, she was closely involved with the creation of the online library catalogue, the Linnaeus Link Project, and the digitization of both the Linnaean and Smithian biological collections, including correspondence and annotated works. As Honorary Archivist and Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, she edits The Linnean Newsletter and Proceedings. She has contributed to numerous scholarly publications on Linnaeus and J. E. Smith and is one of the founding members of the European Botanical and Horticultural Libraries’ group and the Linnaeus Link Partnership. She also serves as a Trustee for The Ray Society and is a long standing member of the British Ecological Society.
Dr Clemency Fisher
Clemency Fisher is responsible for the use, curation and management of the collections of vertebrate animals at World Museum Liverpool. Her specialist interests include: The history of 19th century natural history collecting, rare and extinct birds, bird bones in archaeological excavations in the North West and the historical vertebrate fauna of Merseyside. She is also interested in the Museum’s founder, Edward Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby, whose bird and mammal collections formed the basis of Liverpool’s first public museum. Current research focuses on the English explorer-naturalist John Gilbert in Australia, 1838-1845 and his membership of the First Ludwig Leichhardt Expedition of 1844-1845.
Mr E. Geoffrey Hancock
Geoff Hancock has recently retired from The Hunterian (Zoology Museum), University of Glasgow, after a career as a curator in various museums in the UK. His entomological interests include the systematics of various families of Diptera mainly studying saproxylic faunas in both temperate and tropical forest systems. A forum for this is provided by The Malloch Society, a research group that honours John Russell Malloch (1875-1963) born near Glasgow, who impacted on a world stage following emigration to the USA. His historical natural history has centred mainly around William Hunter’s (1718-1783) insect collection that was curated and used as a primary source by Johann Christian Fabricius (1745-1808). Several papers have appeared in the SHNH journal and other outlets on these and other subjects. He continues his researches into entomology and the history of collections and museums as an Honorary Hunterian Research Fellow.
Ms Jo Hatton
Jo Hatton is Keeper of Natural History at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in South East London where she is responsible for the development, research and interpretation of this diverse collection. She started her career as a curator, documenting and cataloguing Natural History specimens at Liverpool Museum and went on to curate similar material at the National Museum of Wales, Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Grant Museum of Zoology, UCL, before taking up her current post. As a long standing committee member for the Biology Curators Group and the Natural Sciences Collections Association, Jo held the position of Meetings Secretary. She is currently a council member of the London Natural History Society and has been a member of SHNH for many years. Current research interests include the history of taxidermy, particularly the little known Hampshire taxidermist and naturalist, Edward Hart (most of his remaining taxidermy cases and notebooks are housed at the Horniman Museum), as well as the early entomological collection of the museum’s founder Frederick J. Horniman.
Ms Elle Larsson
Elle Larsson is currently in the 3rd year of her PhD which examines Walter Rothschild’s zoological collection at Tring, its aim being to use Rothschild to reclaim the position of private collectors within the history of science at the turn of the twentieth century. This is a collaborative project for which she is based both at King’s College London and the Natural History Museum. This research comes after having completed both her undergraduate and masters work on the history of the exotic animal trade, in particular looking at the business dealings of animal dealer Charles Jamrach. Elle is also currently a co-convenor of the Animal History Group which she, together with three other students at KCL, established in 2016 with the idea of bringing together all those with an interest in animal history in its broadest sense. As she continues in her working life she is eager to pursue her passion for natural history and the history of museum collections, using her research to continue to communicate with the public.
Ms Maggie Reilly
Maggie Reilly B.Sc (Hons), is Curator of Zoology at The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow where she has spent all of her professional career. After a graduate summer scholarship working for Juliet Clutton-Brock on herbivore skulls at the NHM, she took up a post at her alma mater to curate the wide-ranging zoological collections. From protozoa to mammals, taxidermy, bones, wet-preserved eggs, shells, entomology, associated records and archives, the collection requires knowledge of practical care and conservation techniques, taxonomy and nomenclature, collections research, documentation and a myriad of other skills. On the use/access side she has experience in exhibition-making, education and training for nursery – post-grad/lifelong learning audiences, outreach and public engagement, grant-raising, project management and policy development. More recently she has also taken on responsibility for the curation of anatomy and pathology collections. She also has a general interest in the history of science, particularly biology over the 18th – 20th centuries. For many years she has been a committee member for the Natural Sciences Collections Association.
Ms Felicity Roberts
Felicity Roberts has an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies from King’s College London, in conjunction with the British Museum. Her research interests cover natural history, gender, material culture and the literary and visual arts during the long eighteenth century. She served as book reviews editor for Archives of Natural History from 2014 to 2018.
Mr Edwin Rose
Edwin Rose is currently a PhD student in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. His research is on libraries of natural history from1740-1830, examining the relationship between printed books, book collecting and specimen collections. In this work, Edwin examines the use of natural historical books in the field, investigating the emergence of the concept of fieldwork during this period, and in the library, particularly in relation to their associated natural history collections, systematic classification of specimens and publication. He is concentrating on the libraries and collections of Hans Sloane, Thomas Pennant, Gilbert White and Joseph Banks.
He has particular research interests in: history of natural history ca.1650-1850, histories of the book, collecting, museums, classification, scientific images, print culture and the earth sciences. Edwin is currently an affiliate of the Natural History Museum, London.
Co-opted Members of Council
Ms Laura Brassington
In the nineteenth century, British naturalists depended heavily upon correspondence networks to exchange information and specimens. The importance of these networks to the most eminent figures has been widely acknowledged; yet the networks of working-class naturalists have been afforded much less consideration. Most historiography on working-class intellectual life uses working-class autobiographies to focus on the literary pursuits of these men and women in the nineteenth century. I began interrogating these historiographical assumptions whilst completing my undergraduate dissertation at St Andrews. In this project, I looked at the Banksian Natural History Society, a group based in Manchester between 1829 and 1836. Typically addressed as a working-class collective, I used the Banksians’ Transactions and other archival material to consider how the Society actually brought together gentleman and artisans through a mutual interest in science. Through my research, I have come to understand science as a social construct; what is accepted as knowledge is determined by the social relations of its proponents. I have continued to interrogate these assumptions through further archival projects, including my MPhil dissertation. This will form the basis of the first chapter of my PhD, in which I will consider the correspondence between working-class men and Charles Darwin.
Dr Helen Cowie
Helen Cowie is senior lecturer in history at the University of York. Her research focuses on the history of animals and the history of natural history. She is author of Conquering Nature in Spain and its Empire, 1750-1850 (Manchester University Press, 2011), Exhibiting Animals in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Empathy, Education, Entertainment (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and Llama (Reaktion Books, 2017).
Dr Malgosia Nowak-Kemp
Malgosia Nowak-Kemp has been a member of the Society for some years, serving on the Council and since 2006 acting as the International Representatives Co-ordinator. Until her retirement in 2015, she was the Zoological Collections Manager of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History with primary responsibility for the curation and management of vertebrate material. This included the oldest specimens of natural history in this country – the collection of father and son John Tradescant – containing amongst others the famous Dodo. During the course of her museum work she conducted research on the origin and history of the vertebrate collection, and has published on numerous topics including the Oxford Dodo, the Bell turtle collection, the human remains, and the extinct giant lemurs of Madagascar. She has also collaborated on a number DNA studies of museum specimens. Malgosia organised and taught several practical undergraduate and post-graduate courses for Oxford University and Brookes Oxford University utilising the extensive vertebrate collection of the Museum. She was also involved in the museum’s outreach and public engagement programme, giving talks to various societies and members of general public on different topic of natural history. Through her membership of Oxford University Museums Historical Group she took part in cross museums historical projects. In 2015, Malgosia took early retirement in order to concentrate on her research interests and she successfully completed her doctorate on the collection and usage of the zoological collections of Oxford University from the 17th to 21stcentury. She has contributed a chapter entitled William Burchell in Southern Africa, 1811-1815 for the volume Naturalists in the field –Collecting, Recording and Preserving the Natural World from the Fifteenth to the Twenty-First Century (Brill, 2018) edited by the Past President of the Society, Arthur MacGregor. She is a member of the Early History of Anthropology and Archaeology at Oxford and Oxford Bioanthropology Initiative. Her current research interests concern the acquisition of human osteological collection.
Ms Elaine Shaughnessy
Elaine Shaughnessy has a long association with SHNH and has served on Council and acted as the Representative’s Co-ordinator (1994 – 2006). She is a currently Newsletter Editor and Website Coordinator. She is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and was awarded a Linnean Tercentenary Medal in 2008. Elaine is additionally an Ambassador for the World Land Trust and a member of the IUCN Commission for Education and Communication. Roles have included Head of Development for the Linnean Society of London, Head of Publishing for IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature and Editor for Editions Alecto, where she worked on the Banksian natural history collections from Cook’s first voyage in HMS Endeavour (1768-1771) held at the Natural History Musuem, London.
Professor Ray Williams
Ray Williams is a zoologist working as a veterinary parasitologist professionally, and as a marine biologist for fun. Research in experimental science stimulated an interest in historical, biographical and bibliographical aspects of natural history. Current projects include the life and work of John Van Voorst (scientific publisher), Philip Henry Gosse (naturalist and artist), Thomas Hincks (zoophyte taxonomist), John Henry Gurney senior (ornithologist), Ernest Edward Tyzzer (oncologist and parasitologist), and Thomas Alan Stephenson (marine ecologist and artist). An SHNH member since 1983, Ray has previously served on Council for 1986-89, 2006-09 and 2013-16; initiated the organization of the Easter Conference for 1989 on Sources and Techniques for Biographical and Bibliographical Research; and received the society’s Founders’ Medal in 2009. In 1991, he was chief editor of the Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Coelenterate Biology; in 2006 revised, for the British Library, the eighth edition of John Carter’s ABC for Book Collectors; and is currently a member of the editorial board of Zoological Bibliography. In 2006, he was appointed a visiting professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Beijing; in 2008, was conferred an ScD by the University of Cambridge for his parasitology research; and in 2009 was elected to the Lasher History Lectureship of the American Association of Avian Pathologists.