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Society for the History of Natural History


SHNH Early Career Researcher Symposium showcasing research into Natural History. Thursday 23 February 2023 online 09.15-17.45 GMT

SHNH Early Career Researcher Symposium showcasing research into Natural History. Thursday 23 February 2023 online 09.15-17.45 GMT

February 23, 2023 09:15am - 05:45pm

The Society for the History of Natural History is a diverse community of people united by an active interest in the study of natural history through time, believing that a greater awareness of how nature has been considered, documented, valued and exploited by societies and individuals worldwide leads to a deeper understanding and celebration of nature.

The Society is known for its friendliness and its meetings combine intellectual excellence with opportunities for an informal exchange of ideas. It is a focal point for the history of all aspects of natural history. This includes art, literature, biography and bibliography as well as investigative historical studies.

For the first time in its history, the Society is holding a conference expressly to showcase research into the history of natural history being done by doctoral and early careers researchers across the globe. This builds on the Society’s already successful annual William T. Stearn Student Essay Prize, awarded to the best original, unpublished essay in the history of natural history, which is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students worldwide.

Download 2023 SHNH Early Career Researcher Symposium agenda

Download 2023 SHNH Early Career Researcher Symposium Programme and Abstracts


Please register to attend through Eventbrite

For this symposium we have welcomed papers from across the field which speak to any aspects of the history of natural history. The speakers have been drawn from individuals registered for PhD programmes or within 3 years of being awarded their doctorate.

Speakers have been convened into sessions of related 15-20 minute papers with a shared session for questions at the end of each session.  Please see the programme below.



9:15am Welcome

9:30am – 11am Session One

Calaway Dodson, Carlyle Luer, and the creation of the Herbario del Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales de Quito
Javier Ramiro Poveda Figueroa, Universitate Autonama de Barcelona

The Jesuit encounter with natural history in India: a century of observations in the Journal of Bombay Natural History Society
Joseph Satish Vedanayagam, St. Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai

Catching rhinos & understanding tigers: indigenous knowledge in the expeditions of the Natuurkundige Commissie
Pieter van Wingerden, Leiden University


11:30am – 1pm Session Two

Private trading and animal profit: A history of Dr Alwin Haagner’s directorship and departure from South Africa’s National Zoological Garden, c.1913–1926
Mia Uys, University of Cape Town

‘One thing stands beyond doubt that Taoung Taloung is not white. He is literally the darkest elephant in the whole collection’: sanctity, whiteness, and Barnum’s Burmese Elephant at the London Zoo (c.1884)
Daniel Phillips, University of Exeter

Settler apathy and indigenous flora: the difficulties in compiling a new Flora Capensis in the nineteenth-century Cape Colony
Dr Katherine Arnold, University of Liverpool


2:00pm – 3:30pm Session Three

Ontario fruitgrowers and fireblight: a tangled web of knowledge creation and communication
Kathryn Bruce, University of St Andrews

Salvaging and the natural history collecting of George Handisyd, surgeon, 1686–1692
Brad Scott, Queen Mary, University of London

Collecting and picturing the Earth: history of geology and mineralogy through the case of the École des Mines in Paris (18–19th centuries)
Maddalena Napolitani, Università dell’Insubria


4:00pm – 5:30pm Session Four

Elizabeth Gwillim’s botany. Sex, art, and science in imperial India, 1801–1807
Ciel Haviland, McGill University

Butterfly dust on the canvas: the lepidochromy technique between art and natural history
V. E. Mandrij, University of Konstanz

The illustrated natural history of Brazil
Thabata Tosta, University of Porto

5:30-5:45 – Closing Remarks



For more information on the Society please see

Archives of Natural History is the journal of the Society for the History of Natural History, publishing papers on the history and bibliography of all branches of natural history. For more information see


Registered Charity no. 2103555 in England and Wales