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

Society for the History of Natural History 2022 awards announcement. Founders’ Medal – Theodore W. Pietsch; President’s Award – Madeline Hutchins; Natural History Book Prize – Jordan Goodman

Society for the History of Natural History 2022 awards announcement. Founders’ Medal – Theodore W. Pietsch; President’s Award – Madeline Hutchins; Natural History Book Prize – Jordan Goodman

The Council of the Society for the History of Natural History is delighted to announce the following awards which will be celebrated at our forthcoming AGM on 30 June. We invite you to join us.

SHNH Founders’ Medal 2022

Theodore W. Pietsch

SHNH is delighted to award the prestigious SHNH Founder’s Medal this year to Professor Theodore “Ted” W. Pietsch. The Founders’ Medal is awarded to persons who have made a substantial contribution to the study of the history or bibliography of natural history through a sustained record of high-quality publications, and a sustained contribution to dissemination of the history of natural history through practice or curation.

Ted Pietsch is Professor Emeritus in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, and Curator Emeritus of Fishes at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington. He is a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, the Linnean Society of London, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the University of Washington Teaching Academy, and an Honorary Member of the Ichthyological Society of Japan.

He is interested primarily in marine ichthyology, especially the biosystematics, zoogeography, reproductive biology, and behavior of deep-sea fishes. As former curator of the Fish Collection of the University of Washington Burke Museum of Natural History (, he is also interested in natural history collections and collection building, and in biotic survey and inventory, the latter best exemplified by a decade-long series of expeditions to collect plants and animals on the islands of the Kuril Archipelago in the Russian Far East.

Ted also led a two-year floral and faunal survey of the Elwha River Valley on the Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington State. A book on the Fishes of the Salish Sea: Puget Sound and the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca was published in 2019 by the UW Press.

Ted has also published extensively on the history of science, especially the history of ichthyology. Among the latter are works on the French comparative anatomist Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) and his 22-volume Histoire naturelle des poissons (1828–1849); bookdealer, publisher, and secret agent Louis Renard (1678/79–1746) and his Fishes, Crayfishes, and Crabs; the unpublished manuscripts of the seventeenth-century explorer-naturalist Charles Plumier (1646–1704); and on the history of natural history collection-building. His current efforts are directed toward an annotated, illustrated, English translation of Cuvier’s five-volume Histoire des sciences naturelles, depuis leur origine jusqu’a nos jours (1841­–1845), the first three volumes of which have already been published. (Source:

Definitive works on early ichthyologists include on: Peter Artedi (1705–1735), David Starr Jordan (1851–1931), Charles Henry Gilbert (1859–1928), and Edwin Chapin Starks (1867–1932).

Ted is also a regular contributor to Archives of Natural History published by Edinburgh University Press ( and his forthcoming article (ANH 49.1 2022 in press) is ‘Charles Plumier’s anatomical drawings and description of the American crocodile, Crocodylus acutus (1694–1697)”.

In speaking of the award, Ted Pietsch said: ‘I am thrilled beyond description!!  It’s such a great honour to be recognized in this way’.

For more information on the SHNH Founders’ Medal see:

SHNH President’s Award 2022

SHNH is delighted to award the SHNH President’s Award 2022 to Madeline Hutchins for her work on Ellen Hutchins and Bantry Bay. The Award recognises an individual or team’s contribution and impact in promoting and improving accessibility, inclusivity and diversity to the study of the history of natural history.

Prior to Madeline’s work, only a handful of historians of botany were aware of Ellen Hutchins and the contributions she made to Dawson Turner and William Jackson Hookers’ monographs on seaweeds and liverworts, and through her regular correspondence with Turner during the last seven years of her short life.

Both sides of this correspondence exist and extracts now available online reveal both botanical practices of the early nineteenth century and Ellen Hutchins’ independent thought. These show how a highly competent woman, whose gender prohibited her entry into learned institutions, was able to participate in botanical science. She was celebrated for finding numerous new species and as an accomplished botanical artist.

The website created by Madeline Hutchins ( ) draws on these resources and aims to be as inclusive as possible, recognising that a figure like Ellen Hutchins has the potential to attract a range of audiences to natural history. It uses videos such as the one titled ‘She Gathered Seaweeds on the Sea Shore’ ( ) with re-enactors bringing home the realities of past life in Bantry Bay and what it was like to be a woman collector in the early 1800s, one of several giving insight into her life.

Audiences are encouraged to investigate the plants that Ellen Hutchins studied (seaweeds, mosses, liverworts, and lichens) in the ‘Explore the Botany of Bantry Bay’ section:

The ‘For Kids’ section:  stresses the importance of paying attention to nature in the ‘schools page’. The website also details the ways in which Ellen Hutchins is now commemorated in the places with which she was associated and how her life has inspired a novel (2020) and poetry.

Madeline Hutchins has also arranged exhibitions on Ellen Hutchins in Dublin, Cork, and Kew. The greatest impact is through her organisation of the nine-day Ellen Hutchins Festival held annually (since 2015)  in Bantry Bay during Ireland’s Heritage Week. The value of using the life of a historical figure to encourage an interest in the natural world is clear on the Ellen Hutchins website and comes fully to life in the festival.

For more information on the President’s Award see

SHNH Natural History Book Prize 2022
(John Thackray Medal)

Jordan Goodman

The Society for the History of Natural History is very pleased to announce that our prestigious Book Prize (the John Thackray Medal) will this year be awarded to Dr Jordan Goodman for his Planting the World: Joseph Banks and his Collectors: An Adventurous History of Botany (Harper Collins, 2021, ISBN 978-0-00-757883-2).

It was a bumper year for nominations and no fewer than eight books were put up for the award. The Awards Panel unanimously agreed however, that Planting the World was the clear winner.

Dr Goodman is Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London.

The work tells the story of how Sir Joseph Banks sent collectors and gardeners overseas to find and acquire plants new to Europe. They could then be studied and grown at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It is a very thoroughly researched and referenced work, full of detail which, according to one judge, ‘sparkles with the untold stories of many unknown collectors’.  This was echoed by another judge who said ‘I enjoyed the fact that the book was pulling together the stories of so many different botanists and gardeners’.

This detail, as all the judges agreed, means that as well as being an impressive and satisfying monograph, the book is very useful as a reference work. One judge said they had ‘looked up a couple of things in it already!’

Winner of the SHNH Natural History Book Prize

All in all, Planting the World: Joseph Banks and his Collectors: An Adventurous History of Botany is a very impressive book and we are very happy to award our Society for the History of Natural History Book Prize (Thackray Medal), and our congratulations, to Dr Jordan Goodman.

In speaking of the award, Dr Goodman said: ‘I am delighted to be the recipient of the John Thackray medal for the Best Book Prize of 2021 and humbled to join a long list of previous and distinguished winners. Natural history is more important now than it has ever been and the Society needs to be commended for keeping it firmly in the public eye with this award and its many other activities’.

For those interested in reading more about Planting the World you can access a recent review by Professor Arthur Lucas in the Society’s Journal, Archives of Natural History

For more information on the Natural History Book Prize see

Image: ‘Alyogyne hakeifolia’ by Ferdinand Bauer, based on his drawing of material collected as ‘Hibiscus filiformis’ from Goose Island Bay, Western Australia, in May 1803


‘Goodman turns his attention to the “adventurous history” of the botanists, naturalists, gardeners, and ship captains who carried out his vicarious plant-hunting across the world, shining a light on individuals whose achievements are relatively uncelebrated. The book is particularly strong on the minutiae of planning, negotiating, and financing these ventures, and on the disasters that so often beset them … For each expedition, Goodman builds up a picture based on meticulous research in original sources … Goodman illustrates vividly how adept [Banks] was, all through his career, at piggybacking on different government, diplomatic, and mercantile ventures … Planting the World tracks Banks’s projects in detail and illustrates dramatically how difficult it was to move plants around the world’
Jenny Uglow, New York Review of Books

‘A brilliant and authoritative insight into the global reach of Joseph Banks, one of the great figures of the Enlightenment, through the lives of the intrepid botanists, gardeners, and nurserymen whose explorations and adventures made it all possible’
Peter Crane

‘The story of 18th century European botanists, their ships and voyages, united by the mind and extraordinary energy of Joseph Banks as he developed both the science and gardens of England. It is a marvellous history packed with naval explorations, plant collecting, and the role of individuals in making Britain a major centre for global botany’
Janet Browne




Society for the History of Natural History AGM 2022

30 June 2022 16:00–18:00 BST


The SHNH AGM will be held as part of the programme of our Summer conference, The Language of Nature, to be held at the ThinkTank, the Birmingham Science Museum, on 13 June 2023. The Society’s AGM will take place after the lunch break, at 1.30 pm London time /13:30 BST.