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Society for the History of Natural History

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Message from SHNH President Geoff Moore April 2011

Message from SHNH President Geoff Moore April 2011

SHNH Council met recently (10 February 2011) so it is appropriate to give members an update on the Society’s affairs in this particularly significant year, SHNH’s 75th anniversary.  Akin to the beginnings of Lloyds Insurance, 75 years ago, the Society was founded at a meeting in a Lyons coffee house near the British Museum (Natural History). For more information, see a brief history of the Society for the History of Natural History. 

We have lots of projects and events planned to commemorate this landmark in the Society’s affairs (watch out for further announcements); but note particularly our Spring Meeting in Chester (19-20 May).  Our Meetings Secretary is working on some more events, so members please watch this space.

2011 is also the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Davies Sherborn (1861-1942), first President of the Society (when it was founded in 1936 its name was Society for the Bibliography of Natural History). Sherborn compiled the Index Animalium single-handedly over 43 years (1758-1850). This 11 volume, 9,000 page work became the basis for zoological nomenclature. We will celebrate Sherborn’s life with a one-day symposium provisionally entitled "Anchoring Biodiversity Information: From Sherborn to the 21st century and beyond"on Friday 28 October 2011 at the Natural History Museum in London.  The Society’s Publishers Edinburgh University Press have made Sherborn’s articles for the journal freely available online as well as two biographical articles. There is also a new SHNH webpage for Charles Davies Sherborn.

Council approved the nomination of our erstwhile Treasurer, Dr Kees Rookmaaker, as our overseas representative for South East Asia, after his recent translation to Singapore.  If anyone in S. E. Asia wants more information about the Society then please contact Kees directly; his contact email being on the international representatives page of this website.

Julia Bruce will be retiring as Newsletter Editor after the next issue.  Julia has served us fantastically well in that capacity since 1996 but she feels that our 75th anniversary is an appropriate moment to hand the mantle onto someone else.  So, we are looking for a volunteer from our membership to take over this role.  As you know the Newsletter appears three or four times a year and is always something that members look forward to receiving as a source of information and a forum for members’ queries. 

That meeting was the last for Les Jessop and Elaine Shaughnessy in their period in office as Councillors, and we thank them both for their considerable contributions.  Les, however, will remain as Associate Editor of Archives of natural history and Elaine will continue to be in attendance at Council in her capacity as SHNH Webmaster.  Kathie Way has resigned from Council for personal reasons and we thank her for her tremendous help with our membership database records.  

Council wishes to give a real push to membership recruitment.  If each member could recruit a friend then we’d double the membership overnight, so can I make a plea to each of you to do what you can to help here?  We have the Society’s brochure on-line that people can download and use as they see fit.  We are recruiting more and more ‘friends’ on Facebook, but we want to translate these into subscriptions if we can.  

The new issue of Archives of natural history (Volume 38 part 1) will be published early April. The complete set of Archives Volumes 1 – 37 are available to all SHNH members online. SHNH Members please note that you will need to activate the 2011 token for continued access even if you have activated a previous token. We have created a new webpage "How to Register for Archives of natural history online" to help guide you through the process.
I look forward to seeing many members and friends at our Spring Meeting and AGM on "From Royal Gifts to Biodiversity Conservation: The History and Development of Menageries, Zoos and Aquariums" in May at Chester Zoo.

Geoff Moore

SHNH President

April 2011