SHNH – Society for the History of Natural History AGM and Spring Meeting 2011. President’s Report
The SHNH – Society for the History of Natural History AGM 2011 was held on Friday 20th May during the enjoyable meeting on ‘From Royal Gifts to Biodiversity Conservation: The History and Development of Menageries, Zoos and Aquariums’ held at Chester Zoo.
The President, Professor Geoff Moore, opened the meeting, welcoming SHNH members and guests. Geoff thanked all involved with the running of the Society for their sterling work over the past year, noting especially the work of those retiring Council members: Les Jessop and Elaine Shaughnessy. Elaine will still be attending Council meetings as a co-opted member in her capacity as the Society’s webmaster and Les will remain as Associate Editor of Archives of natural history. Geoff gave special thanks to Julia Bruce who has retired recently after 15 years as editor of the SHNH Newsletter, wishing her well.
Following the Society elections, Geoff was delighted to welcome to Council three new Councillors: Elizabeth Platts, Chris Mills and Professor Hugh Torrens, whose nominations to Council were unopposed. The President has nominated Professor Torrens as Vice-President of the Society for the coming year. The Society’s Treasurer, Bill Noblett, presented the Society’s accounts, which were accepted by the Members present. Discussion was held on the Society’s publishers Edinburgh University Press and on membership fees, where the President canvassed the opinion of members present.
The 2010 SHNH Thackray Medal, given for an outstanding contribution to the history of natural history, was awarded to the Biodiversity Heritage Library. The President presented the medal to Graham Higley of the Natural History Museum, London who accepted the award on behalf of the Biodiversity Heritage Library [BHL]. The BHL is a collaboration between a dozen major natural history libraries making a considerable range of natural history literature freely available on the internet. The participating libraries have over two million volumes in their collections and at the time of nomination, BHL had placed online more than 41,000 titles; by mid-February 2011 the number had risen to almost 49,000. It will undoubtedly grow even larger and make available more and more works that are often difficult to find.
The SHNH Founders’ Medal, awarded to eminent persons who have made an outstanding contribution to the study of the history or bibliography of natural history, was awarded to the Society’s patron, Sir David Attenborough OM CH FRS. Sir David was unable to accept the award on this occasion due to his filming commitments so it is hoped that he will be presented with it later in the year.
The President was delighted to announce a new award, The Patron’s Review, an initiative from the Council of the Society, whereby 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 now been accepted for publication in the next issue of Archives of natural history.
The President thanked Chester Zoo, especially Claudine Gibson and Gordon McGregor Reid, for the excellent venue and the organisation of the event, and Gina Douglas, the SHNH Meetings Secretary. Participants, who will by now have consumed the Cheshire cheese that Gordon supplied them with as a parting gift, will still be debating whether to drink the Darwin beer or keep the bottle intact as a souvenir.
The ‘Proceedings’ of the Chester meeting, “From Royal gifts to biodiversity conservation”, will be published by Chester Zoo, under the logos of all the sponsoring Societies, in a full colour production to be co-edited by Gordon McGregor Reid, Geoff Moore and Tim Brown. Hopefully that will not take too long to appear, so then everyone will have chance to engage with what went on.
Geoff Moore, SHNH President
7 June 2011
1. SHNH President Professor Geoff Moore awards the SHNH Thackray Medal to Graham Higley who accepts it on behalf of the Biodiversity Heritage Library © Elaine Shaughnessy.
2. Delegates enjoying dinner at Chester Racecourse © Malgosia Nowak-Kemp.
3. Dr Helen Cowie, Gina Douglas and Maureen Lazarus © Elaine Shaughnessy
4. Delegates at SHNH meeting Chester 2011 © Elaine Shaughnessy.
Report on Meeting
Programme for SHNH Meeting ‘From Royal Gifts to Biodiversity Conservation: The History and Development of Menageries, Zoos and Aquariums’