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Society for the History of Natural History

About SHNH


SHNH Council 2021-2024

SHNH President
Gina Douglas Hon FLS


Ms Gina Douglas

Gina Douglas FLS (Honoris causa) is an Honorary Member of SHNH – Society for the History of Natural History, the Linnean Society of London, the Svenska Linnésallskapet (Swedish Linnaeus Society) and EBHL – European Botanical and Horticultural Libraries Group, of which she is a founder member. Gina also serves as President of The Ray Society (2019-), Honorary Archivist of the Linnean Society of London, and Editor of The Linnean (Newsletter & Proceedings of the Linnean Society).

Gina has a long association with SHNH, serving on Council 1988-1989 and as an Officer and Meetings Secretary from 19891993 and again from 20002018. As Librarian and Archivist of the Linnean Society of London (19822007) and acting Executive Secretary (2008), Gina has always willingly shared her wealth of knowledge of natural history and the Linnean Society Collections with researchers and colleagues from around the world. She is a consummate networker, understanding the importance of social and professional networking to share knowledge and experience.

Not only was Gina a founder member of EBHL, but also led on the initial development of the Linnaeus Link Project, an international collaboration between libraries with significant holdings of Linnaean material. Managed by the Linnean Society, the Linnaeus Link Project now has 22 international members. Gina was also instrumental in the initial grant development and implementation of the conservation and digitisation of the Linnaean Collections (the Linnaean correspondence and specimen collections), making this important resource globally available, both for taxonomists and also for social historians learning about the biological networks of the time. Gina is a skilled communicator, and has shared her love for natural history and the wide holdings of the library and collections of the Linnean Society on media programmes worldwide. She has chaired international meetings, and contributed numerous outputs through talks, publications and journals. In 2008 Gina was awarded a Linnean Society Tercentenary Medal  for communication.


Will Beharrell

Secretary: Will Beharrell

Will is the Librarian at the Linnean Society of London, the world’s oldest learned society devoted to biology and natural history. He has over a decade’s experience in specialist and rare books collections, having worked for Magdalen College, All Souls College, Merton College, The Bodleian Libraries, and the English Faculty Library in Oxford. He currently manages the Linnean Society’s library service, and facilitates use of its collections for research, public engagement, and education. Since June 2019 he has acted as administrator for the Linnaeus Link project, an international effort to create a union catalogue of material by and about the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus, in collaboration with partner institutions around the world.

Membership Secretary: Jeanne Robinson

Jeanne Robinson

Jeanne is Curator of Entomology at the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow  where the collections have enabled her to work extensively on incredibly rich 18th-century insect material.  She worked on the Hunterian’s touring exhibition and catalogue of ‘William Hunter and the Anatomy of the modern museum’ (Yale University Press: 2018). More recent publications include ‘A specimen of Tirumala hamata hamata (Macleay, 1826) (Lepidoptera: Danainae) from Captain Cook’s first voyage’, produced in collaboration with Richard I. (Dick) Vane-Wright.  Jeanne has also published on the animal history of elephants in ‘The Afterlives of Animals: A Museum Menagerie (2013). Jeanne teaches on all aspects of entomology, including food security, medical entomology, and ecology; as well as ‘curating entomology collections’ to postgraduates. She is a member of  Collection Ecologies – a team of international scholars and artists interested in scientific collections and in re-assessing their value for multidisciplinary research with regard to environmental issues. Jeanne has enjoyed SHNH membership for a number of years and has been Secretary of the Insect Collection Managers Group for Great Britain for over 10 years.

Treasurer: Bill Noblett

Bill was educated at the universities of Cambridge and Sheffield and has been a member of the SHNH since 1981. A historian and bibliographer by training he is an ornithologist by inclination.

Helen Cowie

Awards and Grants Secretary: Professor Helen Cowie

Helen is Professor of History at the University of York. Her research focuses on the history of animals and the history of natural history. She is author of Conquering Nature in Spain and its Empire, 17501850 (2011), Exhibiting Animals in NineteenthCentury Britain: Empathy, Education, Entertainment (2014) and Llama (2017). Her current project, ‘Victims of Fashion: Animal Commodities in Victorian Britain’, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. Helen has been a member of SHNH since 2011, helped to organise the Trading Nature conference at York in 2019 and as a member of Council has led the revision of our Awards and Grants policies.

Editor (Archives of Natural History): Dr. Anne Secord

Anne Secord

 Anne obtained her PhD in history of science in 2002 as an external student at the University of London. She is an editor of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin (28 vols, Cambridge University Press) and an Affiliated Research Scholar in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge. Annes research focuses on popular, particularly working-class, natural history in the nineteenth century, and on horticulture, medicine, and consumption in the eighteenth century. She has published articles on natural history practices, and produced a new edition of Gilbert Whites Natural History of Selborne (Oxford Worlds Classics, 2016). She is working on a book about artisan naturalists to be published by the University of Chicago Press, that explores social class, observation, and skill in nineteenth-century natural history. Anne has served on SHNH Council and as SHNH Vice President. Selected publications can be seen here.


Maggie Reilly


Book Reviews Editor (Archives of Natural History): Maggie Reilly.

Maggie retired in May 2021 after a long career as  Curator of Zoology at the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum. Now a Honorary Research Associate  at the Hunterian, she  is working on curating the shell collections. A member of SHNH for many years, she has been Books Reviews Editor for Archives of Natural History since 2019 and although a novice to the role then, she has embraced it and continues to learn a great deal from the experienced members of Council. She has grown into the role and contributes to the success of ANH where book reviews (freely available online) prove very popular.


Malgosia Nowak-Kemp

International Representatives Secretary: Dr Malgosia Nowak-Kemp.

Before retiring in 2015, Malgosia was Collections Manager in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History’s Zoological Collections, responsible for vertebrate specimens, including the zoological part of the seventeenth century Tradescant collection, the original collection of the Ashmolean Museum. Her research interest is the history of the vertebrate and anthropological collections. She has published on the Oxford dodo, Thomas Bell’s ‘rediscovered’ turtle types, George Rolleston’s work on Greek skulls and recently contributed a chapter about William Burchell in Naturalists in the field edited by Arthur MacGregor (Brill: 2018). After retirement she completed a doctorate on the 400 year history of Oxford’s zoological specimens. She is currently working on the history of the Army Medical Department’s collection.


Meetings Secretary: Dr Elle Larsson

Elle is a historian of science, specialising in the history of natural history and history of animals. She completed her PhD, ‘Collecting, Curating and the Construction of Zoological Knowledge: Walter Rothschild’s Zoological Enterprise, c.1878-1937’, at King’s College London in April 2020. Her current research interests include natural history networks, zoo history and exotic animal ownership and she has published on these subjects in both Archives of Natural History and Centaurus. Elle also devotes her time to her role on the Council for Society for the History of Natural History as Meetings Secretary and as co-founder of the international Animal History Group (

Social Media, Communications and Promotions Secretary: Vacant


Newsletter Editor/ Website Secretary: Elaine Shaughnessy

Elaine is a highly-experienced communications and development professional with expertise gained across a range of reputable international organisations and charities including as Head of Publishing, IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature, Head of Development, Linnean Society of London, and Communications Development Coordinator, World Land Trust. In 2008 Elaine was awarded a Linnean Society Tercentenary Medal  for Communication. Historical research projects include: Banks’s Florilgium (the graphic record of Cook’s first voyage) and Domesday Book.  Elaine has a long association with SHNH serving as Representatives’ Coordinator (1994-2006), Newsletter Editor (2011-), and as an Associate Editor for Archives of Natural History (2019-). Elaine has served as a Trustee of the Linnean Society of London 2020-2023 (Vice President 2021-2022) and an Ambassador for the World Land Trust. Elaine is a member of the IUCN Commission for Education and Communication (IUCN-CEC), NatSCA, CIEP – Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and CharityComms.

Council Member: Joanne Hatton

As Keeper of Natural History at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in south east London, Jo is responsible for managing, interpreting and making accessible around a quarter of a million specimens. Interests include the history of taxidermy and entomological collecting, biological recording and its links to environmental conservation. Jo is a longstanding member of the Society, serving on Council for many years. In 2018, she took over the role of Meetings Secretary and has planned and delivered many popular and successful meetings, helping to widen our appeal and attract a greater diversity of people to our meetings in line with our new mission.

Council Member: Dr Geraldine Reid

Geraldine is Senior Curator of Botany at World Museum, National Museums Liverpool. She is responsible for the curation, development, research and interpretation of this diverse collection.  Her main research interest is diatom systematics which has been the focus of her career. She is interested in the role of collectors and collections to tell hidden stories. She is currently researching the history of the phycologists in the World Museum collections.

Council Member: Nathan Smith