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Society for the History of Natural History

About SHNH

How the society is governed

SHNH Mission, Values & Statement of Purpose


SHNH Members’ Meeting, Cumbria 2017

Founded in 1936, SHNH is an international society whose members are interested in the historical and bibliographical study of all branches of natural history, for all periods and cultures.

This includes botany, general biology, geology, palaeontology and zoology; the lives of past naturalists, their publications, correspondence and collections; the institutions and societies to which they belonged; and bibliographic studies of rare books, manuscripts and illustrative materials.

Membership is open to anyone interested in the objectives of the Society.

Our Mission

The Society for the History of Natural History (SHNH) is instituted for the historical and bibliographical study of all branches of natural history, including their social and cultural aspects, across all cultures.


Our Values and Beliefs are to be

  • Inspiring  (imaginative, curious, outward and relevant)
  • Welcoming  (inclusive, collaborative, sociable and nurturing)
  • Scholarly  (scientific, robust, rigorous, and reputable)
  • Professional  (responsive, supportive, communicative and respectful)
SHNH Members’ Meeting, Cumbria, 2017

Natural History

The Society is a diverse community of people united by an active interest in the study of natural history through time, believing that a greater awareness of how nature has been considered, documented, valued and exploited by societies and individuals worldwide leads to a deeper understanding and celebration of nature. The Society believes that our actions and our publications contribute an enduring legacy to the study of the history of natural history.

Diversity, Equality, and Inclusivity.

The Society welcomes all sectors of society: diversity, equality, accessibility and inclusion will be embedded across all our activities. The Society will welcome and engage with activities and projects dedicated to driving improvements in diversity and inclusivity within the history of natural history community. The Society will be sensitive to the inequalities inherent in historical and contemporary aspects of the study of natural history and will respond to relevant major issues and challenges of our time. Although diversity and equality responsibilities ultimately lie with Council, the Society expects all members to uphold our stated values.


Achieving our Mission


  • The publication of a journal, Archives of Natural History
  • The circulation of a Newsletter to members
  • Utilising electronic communication effectively to promote our interests and values
  • Holding an Annual Conference and other meetings on relevant themes
  • Funding relevant research as finances allow
  • Encouraging younger scholars through the presentation of dedicated awards and prizes
  • Giving a range of public awards to recognise scholarship, reward excellence and to promote the history of natural history to a wide constituency
  • Partnering with relevant organisations to further our mission
  • Monitoring and responding to new opportunities to further the Society’s mission



President and Council

The Society is governed by a Council of 14 Members. The roles of Council members are detailed in Schedule 1 Portfolios of Council Final. The current President (2021-2024) is Gina Douglas.

The governance of The Society for the History of Natural History is set out in the Society’s SHNH Byelaws Approved March 2021 and the accompanying Schedules (Schedule 1 Portfolios of Council Final; Schedule 2 – Awards and Prizes Final).