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Society for the History of Natural History

Awards, Honours and Medals

Awards, Honours and Medals

Honorary Membership

Persons who have performed signal services to the Society may be elected as Honorary Members, and shall not be required to pay an annual subscription. The number of Honorary Members is limited to ten.

Medals and Prizes

One of the means by which the Society seeks to promote the objectives for which it was founded is by making awards for excellence in areas of its fields of activity.

The Founders’ Medal

The Founders’ Medal is awarded to persons who have made a substantial contribution to the study of the history or bibliography of natural history. More than one medal can be awarded in any given year. Read more.

The John Thackray Medal

Instituted in 2000 to commemorate the life and work of John Thackray, a Past President of the Society, this medal is awarded for an outstanding contribution to the history of natural history realised in the preceding three years. Recipients may be individuals, teams or institutions. Read more.

The Patron’s Review

The Patron’s Review, in association with the Society’s patron Sir David Attenborough OM CH FRS, is an opportunity for an outstanding young scholar, nominated by Council, and invited by the Society’s Patron to write a review that advances the Society’s objects, namely “the historical and bibliographical study of the growth of all branches of natural history in all periods and cultures”. Read more

The William T. Stearn Student Essay Prize

Instituted in 2007 to commemorate the work of William T. Stearn (1911-2001), a scholar whose work contributed much to the field and to this Society, the prize is awarded to the best original, unpublished essay in the history of natural history. The competition is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students in full- or part-time education. The winner will receive £300 and the winning essay will normally be published in the Society’s journal. Read more.


The Alwyne Wheeler Bursary

An Award to facilitate an original contribution to the study of the history of natural history by a person under the age of 30. The Alwyne Wheeler Bursary supports travel by eligible scholars to meetings of the Society. The award will include up to £100 (or equivalent in other currencies) for travel, plus the conference registration. Read more.


The Ramsbottom Lecture

Dr John Ramsbottom OBE (1885-1974) was Keeper of Botany at the British Museum (Natural History), founder member of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History in 1936 and President from 1942 to 1972. He was made an Honorary Member in 1972. Dr Ramsbottom made a bequest to the SHNH in his will and it was decided to utilise this to establish The Ramsbottom Lecture, to be given at the Society’s International Meetings, the first being delivered in April 1976. Read more.