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The Emergence of a Discipline: Ornithology 1820–1850

  • Paul Lawrence Farber
Part of the Studies in the History of Modern Science book series (SHMS, volume 12)

Abstract

European society was fundamentally altered by the combined impact of social and economic revolutions in the late eighteenth century. By 1830 the effect of the ramifications of these two movements was evident. E. J. Hobsbawm wrote that:

Whichever aspect of social life we survey, 1830 marks a turning-point in it… in the history of human migrations, social and geographical, in that of the arts and or ideology, it appears with equal prominence.1

Keywords

Comparative Anatomy Linnean Society Zoological Society Complete Catalogue Printing Industry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution, p. 141.Google Scholar
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    Dunmore, French Explorers in the Pacific, Vol. 2, p. 228.Google Scholar
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  4. 4.
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  5. 5.
    From a notebook of Jules Verreaux, “Mammalogie et Ornithologie Australienne. 1844 et 1845”, Bibliothèque du Muséum National d’Histoire naturelle, ms. 770, p. 304.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    A useful bibliographical guide for the histories of these societies can be found in R. M. MacLeod, J. R. Friday, and C. Gregor, The Corresponding Societies of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 1883–1929, London, Mansell, 1975.Google Scholar
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    Rev. A. Hume, The Learned Societies and Printing Clubs of the United Kingdom: Being an Account of Their Respective Origin, History, Objects, and Constitution..., London, Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1847, p. 13.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
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    Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers (Session 223) (1845) (Bills: Public, Vol. 4), “An Act for Encouraging the Establishment of Museums in Large Towns”, p. 441; which was amended by the “Public Libraries Act” of 1850 allowing any town council (not just towns of over 10,000) to establish museums or libraries: (Session 606) (1850) (Bills: Public, Vol. 7), p. 361.Google Scholar
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    Reports of the Council of the Philosophical and Literary Society of Leeds, 1869–70, 50:4–5.Google Scholar
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    See Marjorie Plant, The English Book Trade. An Economic History of the Making and Sale of Books, London, Allen & Unwin, 1965 (2nd edition),Google Scholar
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    Alfred Shorter, Paper-Making in the British Isles. An Historical and Geographical Study, Newton Abbot, David & Charles, 1971.Google Scholar
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    The importance of lithography was recognized immediately. See, for example, the review: “Swainson’s Zoological Illustrations”, Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, 1821, 4:209, and Hugh Strickland, “Report on the Recent Progress and Present State of Ornithology”, Report of the Fourteenth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1844: 202–203.Google Scholar
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    Among the more important natural history journals founded in the 1830’s were: Archiv für Naturgeschichte, Magasin de zoologie, and Magazine of Natural History (n.s.).Google Scholar
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    British Museum, Add. ms. 37,188, fol. 303. Letter of April 8, 1834. Swainson elaborated on his position in his A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural History, London, Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green and Longman, 1834.Google Scholar
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    Le Moniteur Universel, 1841, no. 280, p. 2177.Google Scholar
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    Rachel Lauden, “Ideas and Organizations in British Geology: A Case Study in Institutional History”, Isis, 1977, 68(244):527–538, questions the position that institutionalization is necessary for scientific development. Since ornithology, qua discipline emerged before ornithological societies, journals, etc., the present study suggests a similar point.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    [Anthelme Brillat-Savarin], Physiologie du Gout, ou méditations de gastronomie transcendante; ouvrage théorique, historique et a Vordre de jour, dédié aux Gastronomes parisiens, par un professeur, Paris, Sautelet, 1826, Vol. 1, p. 142.Google Scholar
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    Hugh Strickland, “Report on the Recent Progress and Present State of Ornithology”, Report of the Fourteenth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1845:173.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Ibid., p. 221.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    British Museum (Natural History), Zoology Library, “Zoological Society of London Manuscript Reports of the Curator. 1836–1840”. Report of May 15, 1839.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    The quantity of literature on Audubon is enormous. For an introductory appreciation of his importance for the history of ornithology the following are useful: Anker, Birds Books and Bird Art, Ronsil, L’art français; Alice Ford, John James Audubon, Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1964.Google Scholar
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    and Robert Henry Welker, Birds and Men, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1955.Google Scholar
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    Quoted in the informative biographical memoir, James Harley, “The Late Professor Macgillivray”, Report of the Council of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, 1853:105–164.Google Scholar
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    Frédéric Cuvier, “Ornithological Biography, or an Account of the habits of the birds… by John James Audubon”, Journal des savants, 1833:706.Google Scholar
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    Frédéric Cuvier, “Nouveau recueil des planches coloriées d’oiseaux, pour servir de suite ou de complément aux planches enluminées de Buffon, par M. Temminck, conservateur du cabinet d’histoire naturelle de Leyde, et M. Meiffren Laugier, Baron de Chartrouse”, Journal des savants, 1832:647.Google Scholar
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    Charles Lucien Bonaparte in his A Geographical and Comparative List of the Birds of Europe and North America, London, Voorst, 1838, p. vi, wrote “Throughout the list, I have quoted as Types of the Species under consideration, the figures of the great works of Mr. Gould and M. Audubon on the Ornithology of the two regions, as they must be considered the standard works on the subject”.Google Scholar
  38. 37.
    See Allen McEvey, John Gould’s Contribution to British Art, Sydney, Sydney University Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  39. 37a.
    For an interesting discussion of Gould and the development of Lithography see Christine Jackson, Bird Illustrators: Some Artists in Early Lithography, London, Witherby, 1975.Google Scholar
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    See Sandra Herbert, “The Place of Man in the Development of Darwin’s Theory of Transmutation. Part I. To July 1837”, Journal of the History of Biology, 1914, 7(2):242–244.Google Scholar
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    Edward Blyth, “An Attempt to Classify the ‘Varieties’ of Animals, with Observations on the Marked Seasonal and Other Changes Which Naturally Take Place in Various British Species, and Which do not Constitute Varieties”, The Magazine of Natural History, 1835, 3:40–53,Google Scholar
  42. 39a.
    Edward Blyth, “Observations on the Various Seasonal and Other External Changes Which Regularly Take Place in Birds, More Particularly in Those Which Occur in Britain, with Remarks on Their Great Importance in Indicating the True Affinities of Species; and upon the Natural System of Arrangement”, The Magazine of Natural History, 1836, 9:393–409 and 505–514.Google Scholar
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    Hugh Strickland developed his ideas in “On the True Method of Discovering the Natural System in Zoology and Botany”, The Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 1814, 6:184–194 and in “On the Structural Relations of Organized Beings”, read before the Ashmolean Society of Oxford, March 10, 1845, and printed in William Jardine, Memoirs of Hugh Strickland,M.A., London, Voorst, 1858, pp. 348–356.Google Scholar
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    Strickland, “On the True Method”, p. 190.Google Scholar
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  46. 43.
  47. 44.
    Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, “Considérations sur les caractères employés en ornithologie pour la distinction des genres, des familles et des ordres, et détermination de plusieurs genres nouveaux”, Nouvelles Annales du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, 1832, 1:357–397.Google Scholar
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    N. A. Vigors and Thomas Horsfield, “A Description of the Australian Birds in the Collection of the Linnean Society; with an Attempt at Arranging Them According to Their Natural Affinities”, Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, 1827, 15:170–172 tried to argue the relationship between the Linnean and quinary systems. Swainson in his numerous publications argued for the relationship between the quinary system and a form of Natural Theology.Google Scholar
  49. 46.
    William Swainson, A Treatise on the Geography and Classification of Animals, London, Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green and Longman, 1835, p. 242.Google Scholar
  50. 47.
    Ibid., p. 245.Google Scholar
  51. 48.
    Strickland, “Report on the Recent Progress”, p. 177.Google Scholar
  52. 49.
    See Johann Jakob Kaup, Classification der Sauget hiere und Vogel, Darmstadt, Leske, 1844. Lenoir makes a useful distinction between the Naturphilosophie of Oken et al. and Blumenbach and his followers. See his “The Göttingen School”.Google Scholar
  53. 50.
    Kaup, for example, wrote to George Robert Gray that “Your published works on Ornithology we consider in Germany to be the best which we have and many of our great Museums are arranged after your System”. British Museum, Egerton ms. 2348, fol. 218, undated letter from 1851.Google Scholar
  54. 51.
    “Report of a Committee Appointed ‘to Consider of the Rules by Which the Nomenclature of Zoology May be Established on a Uniform and Permanent Basis’”, Report of the Twelfth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1842:106–107.Google Scholar
  55. 52.
    Ibid., pp. 107–108.Google Scholar
  56. 53.
    See L. Ehe de Beaumount, Notice sur les travaux scientifiques de son altesse le Prince Charles-Lucien Bonaparte, Paris, Bénard, 1866.Google Scholar
  57. 53a.
    Maurizia Capelletti Alippi, “Bonaparte, Carlo Luciano, principe di Canino”, Dizionario Biografico Degli Italiani, 1969, 11:549–556; and Erwin Stresemann, Die Entwicklung, pp. 155–171.Google Scholar
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    “Report from the Select Committee”, Vol. 2, 1836, p. 45.Google Scholar
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    Bibliothèque du Muséum National d’Histoire naturelle, ms. 119.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Lawrence Farber
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General ScienceOregon State UniversityUSA

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