Archives of natural history, Volume 39, No 1 (April 2012)
Archives of natural history, Volume 39, No. 1 (April 2012) is available online at Edinburgh University Press.
W. D. Anderson, Jr: John Edwards Holbrook’s fish illustrations in the Bibliothèque centrale, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris.
E. W. Groves : Lieutenant W. R. Broughton (commanding HMS Chatham), James Johnstone (Master), Archibald Menzies (surgeon/naturalist) and the survey of the San Juan Archipelago, 1792.
J. Adelman : An insight into commercial natural history: Richard Glennon, William Hinchy and the nineteenth-century trade in giant Irish deer remains.
M. J. Delany : Mammal studies in Uganda 1878–1980.
R. T. Wilson : The biological exploration of Darfur, 1799–1998.
C. D. Wylie : Teaching nature study on the blackboard in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century England.
R. J. Cleevely : The collaboration of the French naturalist Charles De Gerville with the Sowerby family and its contribution to early nineteenth-century geology.
J. M. Thomas : The documentation of the British Museum’s natural history collections, 1760–1836.
D. Bloch : Beak tax to control predatory birds in the Faroe Islands.
P. A. Cochran & R. F. Elliott : Newspapers as sources of historical information about lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens Rafinesque, 1817).
D. P. McCraken : Leslie McCracken and Charles Bethune Horsbrugh: collecting birds’ eggs in Northern Ireland in the 1920s and early 1930s.
A. M. Lucas : George Edgar Dennes (1817–1871): life after the Botanical Society of London.
Society for the Bibliography of Natural History: Founding and early members: biographical notes – 4
William Edward Schevill: palaeontologist, librarian, cetacean biologist : W. D. I. Rolfe.
S. P. Dance : Another taste of Lovell’s Edible mollusks.
H. Noltie : The generic name Scalesia (Compositae) – an etymological blunder.
R. B. Williams : An annotated catalogue of the marine biological paintings of Thomas Alan Stephenson − additional notes.
W. J. Bryce : Pavel Yakovlevich Pyasetskii (1843–1919): his botanical collections in China (1875) and paintings of Chinese gardens.
J. J. F. J. Jansen : William Bridger (1832–1870), collector of birds eggs in Australia and the Netherlands.
Archives of natural history, Volume 39, No. 1 (2012) Abstracts
Abstracts for 39 part 1 in publication sequence
WILLIAM D. ANDERSON, JR: John Edwards Holbrook’s fish illustrations in the Bibliothèque centrale, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris.
John Edwards Holbrook (1794–1871), zoologist and medical doctor, residing in Charleston, South Carolina, apparently sent eight colour plates of North American fishes to the museum in Paris because they were found in the Bibliothèque centrale, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle with known Holbrook material, most significantly a copy of his 1855 edition of the Ichthyology of South Carolina. Herein, I discuss the illustrations of the 16 fishes rendered in those plates.
ERIC W. GROVES: Lieutenant W. R. Broughton (commanding HMS Chatham), James Johnstone (Master), Archibald Menzies (surgeon/naturalist) and the survey of the San Juan Archipelago, 1792.
Captain George Vancouver’s report to the Admiralty, published in the account of his 1790–1795 expedition, failed to give sufficient notice to the importance of Lieutenant William Broughton’s boat survey investigations of the San Juan islands. In fact, in that publication, it was dismissed in a few lines of text (appearing as five lines of print in Lamb’s re-published edition of 1984). Only the first survey of the islands, made on 18–22 May 1792, gets a mention. That of Johnstone’s later visit (with Menzies) from the Birch Bay anchorage on 18–19 June was omitted. An account of Johnstone’s second investigation of San Juan Archipelago is found in no other source than in Menzies’s own unpublished journal. The present author has attempted to address the imbalance and suggests a logical sequence by which Johnstone could have visited those islands not surveyed on the earlier occasion.
JULIANA ADELMAN: An insight into commercial natural history: Richard Glennon, William Hinchy and the nineteenth-century trade in giant Irish deer remains.
Despite the gentlemanly status of natural history research and collecting during the nineteenth century, there was a wide commercial network that was necessary to supply the booming demand for specimens from scientists, hobbyists and public institutions. This article is a case study of two dealers in giant Irish deer remains, Richard Glennon and William Hinchy. I argue that examining how they transacted their business can give us insight into the workings of commercial natural history. The dealer-buyer relationship resembled one of patronage despite the fact that they were engaging in a commercial transaction.
M. J. DELANY: Mammal studies in Uganda 1878–1980.
In the century since Emin Pasha’s observations in 1878, the study of mammals in Uganda has gone through three distinct phases. Up to the First World War the main studies were through expeditions and collectors and the material they brought back to museums in Britain and America. Their work was supplemented by significant contributions from a small number of dedicated residents. The second phase, broadly between the two world wars, was largely dependent on field studies by local residents who continued to send material overseas. The last phase, following the Second World War, witnessed an enormous expansion in mammal studies. These were made possible through easier access to the country, improved facilities in Uganda, the need to develop management techniques for the large mammals and a greater desire to understand tropical faunas. Unfortunately, by the mid-1970s, due to social and economic pressures, these studies had to be greatly curtailed.
R. TREVOR WILSON: The biological exploration of Darfur, 1799–1998.
Darfur covers an area in excess of 400,000 square kilometres in the west of the Republic of Sudan. The Sultanate of Darfur was an independent entity for eight centuries. Three “outsiders” in the sultanate commented on its biology before its annexation by Egypt in the 1870s. A naturalist accompanied the Egyptian invasion but the area was overrun by Mahdist forces in 1883, then reverted to independence in 1898 before incorporation into the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan 1916. No outsiders entered Darfur in the period 1883–1916 but information from spies and informers on wildlife and trade in products appeared in Sudan government reports. The period 1916–1955 produced considerable information from officers in the Sudan Political Service (SPS) and from travellers as a by-product of voyages of geographical discovery. After independence in 1956 biological discovery continued with data gathered, especially on the vegetation and its ecology, through rural development projects by their staff as part of their duties and for animal life through the personal interests of some staff: there were also field trips by Sudanese and foreign universities. There has been little new information since the 1980s and it seems there will be restricted future new knowledge. Darfur’s biological importance derives from its range of ecosystems, from northern deserts to southern deciduous woodland, because it forms a bridge between west and east and because of the isolated massif of Jebel Marra. Biologically it has been, and is being, affected by human population expansion, spread of cultivation, civil strife and climatic vagary. The combined effects of these factors have had a mainly negative effect on larger mammals, birds and the composition and productivity of the vegetation.
CAITLIN DONAHUE WYLIE: Teaching nature study on the blackboard in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century England.
England’s Education Acts in the late nineteenth century made school free and mandatory for all children, filling schools with more and younger students. Visual teaching methods such as blackboard drawing were used to catch young students’ eyes and engage their interest. At the same time, there was high public engagement with natural history and popular science lectures, which built the perception of science as accessible, interesting and useful for people of all social classes. This “science for all” trend along with the new universal education paved the way for nature study, a new school subject based on experiential learning through observation of plants and animals, similar to the popular nineteenth-century pedagogy of object lessons. The many manuals about nature study that were published for teachers in England in the early twentieth century reveal the content, pedagogy, and portrayal of science communicated to young students. Analysis of one manual, Nature teaching on the blackboard (1910), sheds light on typical nature study lessons, including suggested images for teachers to draw on the blackboard. Visual methods of teaching science were not limited to schoolchildren: university lecturers as well as popularizers of science used object lessons and blackboard drawing to educate and entertain their adult audiences. Comparing blackboard teaching of nature study with other educational images and audiences for science explores how multisensory learning and the blackboard brought information about the natural world and engagement with science to the public.
R. J. CLEEVELY: The collaboration of the French naturalist Charles De Gerville with the Sowerby family and its contribution to early nineteenth-century geology.
Letters discovered in Normandy between Charles De Gerville (1769–1853), the French archaeologist and naturalist, and members of the Sowerby family concern his investigation of the strata, their fossils and the exchange of information, specimens and publications. Together with other archives at the Natural History Museum, London, the University of Bristol and the Bibliotheque Municipale de Cherbourg, they deal with his research during the early nineteenth century on the geology of the Cotentin (Cherbourg Peninsula). A brief resumé of James Sowerby’s early botanical interests is mentioned as the likely link for this relationship. Sowerby’s Mineral conchology is believed to have had a major role in influencing De Gerville’s research, particularly through its support of John Farey’s advocacy of William Smith’s methods. These letters, together with references to published accounts about geology at that time, reveal the difficulties under which this research was conducted. An account of De Gerville’s early life is given to explain his links with English contemporaries, mention his characteristic qualities, or foibles, and assess the value of his contribution to geology.
JENNIFER M. THOMAS: The documentation of the British Museum’s natural history collections, 1760–1836.
While much critical attention has been paid to the British Museum’s early collections of natural history, less has been made of the way in which the items were catalogued and recorded. This paper will examine how information was organized within the Museum from its inception in 1753 to 1836, following the publication of the second Report from the Select Committee on the condition, management and affairs of the British Museum. Drawing on the Museum’s avian collections as a case study, it will become apparent that while the Trustees and staff recognized the need for detailed catalogues of their natural history collections, their attention and resources were diverted from this task for various reasons during the early years of the Museum.
D. BLOCH: Beak tax to control predatory birds in the Faroe Islands.
A beak tax was levied in the Faroe Islands from 1742 until 1881. Every man between the ages of 15 and 50 was obliged each year to submit to the authorities one raven’s beak or two beaks of a crow, great skua or greater black-backed gull. A fine was imposed if a man failed in this obligation. The tax was repealed in 1881, after which men were paid for the beaks, and records of the beaks exist until 1934. A total of about 800 beaks submitted annually did not appear to deplete the bird populations, however the increasing human population from around 1800 increased the pressure on the bird populations which then declined rapidly from around 1850. A brief increase in the number of beaks occurred after 1881 when men were paid for the beaks and after that time the populations declined again. The population of crows declined more dramatically than the raven population while the great skua had declined to four breeding pairs when it was protected in 1897. The number of beaks submitted is correlated to the island size, the habitat index and the number of sheep. The smack fishery from the 1880s resulted in a better economy and better survival of the ewes in the lambing season which led to less interest in shooting the four bird species that predated on lambs. The bird populations have recovered even though the Faroese are still allowed to hunt them all the year round.
PHILIP A. COCHRAN & ROBERT F. ELLIOTT: Newspapers as sources of historical information about lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens Rafinesque, 1817).
As part of an attempt to reconstruct the original distribution and relative abundance of lake sturgeon in tributaries to Lake Michigan, old newspapers were surveyed for accounts of sturgeon captured by sport and commercial fishers. The reliability of this process was assessed in several ways. A historical column in a modern newspaper (De Pere journal) proved useful for identifying the time period during which original accounts of sturgeon were first published (late 1800s–early 1900s) and the season when most historical catches occurred (the spring spawning season), but a complete survey of the original newspapers revealed many more records than resurfaced in the historical column and some significant accounts that were published outside of the spawning season. Independent surveys of De Pere newspapers by different searchers revealed that the average searcher found a majority of known records (more than 90%). The seasonal distribution of catches in the Lower Fox River as revealed by historical newspaper accounts was very similar to that based on modern sightings, and the newspaper contained several accounts of sturgeon in other parts of the drainage or other parts of Wisconsin. However, comparison with newspapers published in the neighbouring community of Green Bay revealed that the latter included few of the incidents reported in the De Pere paper, and few additional accounts appeared in the Green Bay papers that were not reported in De Pere. Although the De Pere newspaper accounts taken alone reveal a history of sturgeon exploitation in this microcosm remarkably parallel to patterns of sturgeon exploitation nationwide, our initial focus on the De Pere paper appears to have been fortuitous in that few local newspapers along the Lake Michigan shoreline would have yielded comparable amounts of historical information.
DONAL P. McCRACKEN: Leslie McCracken and Charles Bethune Horsbrugh: collecting birds’ eggs in Northern Ireland in the 1920s and early 1930s.
This paper is a case-study of a school-boy’s egg collection in Northern Ireland in the 1920s and early 1930s. The collection and Leslie McCracken’s friendship with Charles Bethune Horsbrugh, an established naturalist, not only expanded McCracken’s consciousness far beyond the boundaries of his rural existence but also reveal, through the specimens given to McCracken by Captain Horsbrugh, the considerable extent of amateur egg-collecting and the interchange of eggs both within Ireland and Great Britain, and further afield, then and in previous generations. A socio-historic sketch is provided, together with an account of the more interesting bird’s eggs, their collectors, and the location of collection.
A. M. LUCAS: George Edgar Dennes (1817–1871): life after the Botanical Society of London.
G. E. Dennes, the long-term Secretary of the Botanical Society of London who disappeared from British records soon after the Society was wound up, has been traced to Canada, and to Australia where he died.