The SHNH site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our privacy policy.


Society for the History of Natural History

Latest news

Message from SHNH President July 2011

Message from SHNH President July 2011

SHNH Council held its most recent meeting on 7 July 2011 at the Natural History Museum, London, timed nicely to ensure that attendees received a right royal soaking during their walk from the South Kensington Underground Station.  Two of our newest councillors, Professor Hugh Torrens and Mrs Elizabeth Platts, were warmly welcomed and apologies received from Christopher Mills who had pressing engagements that day. Hugh Torrens has also kindly agreed to act as SHNH vice-president until the next AGM. 

The President congratulated Gina Douglas on the splendid joint meeting at Chester Zoo From Royal Gifts to Biodiversity Conservation and was particularly gratified to note that several new members were signed-up.  For more information see reports from the President (President’s Report) and Meetings Secretary (Meetings Secretary Report). The papers that were presented at that meeting will be appearing in a book to be published by Chester Zoo under the joint editorship of Gordon McGregor Reid, Geoff Moore and Tim Brown.  Watch this space and the SHNH Newsletter for announcements.

We were delighted to announce a new award in May, The Patron’s Review. A Council initiative and in association with the Society’s patron Sir David Attenborough OM CH FRS, an outstanding young scholar, nominated by Council, is 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”. The inaugural Patron’s Review entitled “The role of images in the development of Renaissance natural history by Dr Sachiko Kusakawa of Trinity College, Cambridge has been accepted for publication in the next issue Volume 38.2 of Archives of natural history. Archives of natural history Volume 38.2 has been sent for press.  The contents and abstracts are now available on our website. 

Good news regarding the Newsletter too. Elaine Shaughnessy has agreed to take over its editorship (at least temporarily).  Work is going on now behind the scenes to transfer the necessary electronic wizardry from Julia Bruce, whose retirement from that position after 15 years was acknowledged in my last report.  We will be able to maintain closer links between our news outputs (newsletter, website, Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter feed) thereby.  Do send any contributions and news to Elaine at webmaster[at]

Of especial interest to Council is that of nurturing and expanding our membership.  In that connexion, Miranda Lowe from the Natural History Museum has kindly agreed to be the first port of call for membership queries.  She will be taking over the administration of our general enquiries email info[at]  Anyone wishing to notify changes of address, or experiencing difficulties, for example with subscription issues, is asked to contact Miranda [m.lowe(at)] in the first instance.  We realise that some members have found the Edinburgh University Press contact procedures a little daunting.  We are hoping, in the fullness of time, to be able to establish an electronic register of member’s interests (confidential to the Society) that would help us serve the interests of the membership better. 

Important in that regard are the Society’s overseas representatives, co-ordinated with verve by Malgosia Nowak-Kemp.  Professor Francis Thackeray, a human palaeontologist, from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa has agreed to act as our South African representative.   We wish him well in that position and hope he will be able to extend the Society’s influence in that continent.

Charles Nelson’s exciting new initiative for our 75th anniversary – History & Mystery – is taking final form as an anthology of the most interesting, bizarre and entertaining notes and queries from the Society’s newsletters. It is approximately 192pp with the cover designed by Dr Rebecca Jewell. We hope to have it available as early in the autumn as possible.  Council has now fixed a retail price of £15 (including postage and packing) for UK members, and £18 for the rest of the world (ROW).  We hope that as many members (and non-members; or “soon-to-be” members?) as possible will avail themselves of this fascinating read (excellent Christmas present material!).  Please do not be shy either about sending a donation as much in excess of the asking price as you feel able to afford!  Proceeds from the sale of this volume will help replenish the Alwynne Wheeler Bursary to support young scholars in attending SHNH conferences and meetings.  We will be advising you soon as to how to place orders for this volume. If you would like to reserve a copy, do contact the Editor at editor[at]

2011 is also the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Davies Sherborn (1861-1942), first President of SHNH. SHNH, together with the Linnean Society of London and the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) are collaborating on a meeting to celebrate the life and legacy of Sherborn to be held at the Natural History Museum, London on October 28th 2011. The one-day symposium is entitled "Anchoring Biodiversity Information: From Sherborn to the 21st century and beyond". I look forward to seeing you there. The Society’s Publishers Edinburgh University Press have made Sherborn’s articles for Archives of natural history freely available online as well as two biographical articles. For more information do visit our webpage  for Charles Davies Sherborn.

There are lots of other exciting things currently in the pipeline.  As ever… watch this space.

Geoff Moore, SHNH President

18th July 2011