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 Boston Society of Natural History
(1830-1946)

The Boston Society of Natural History, founded in 1830, replaced the Linnaean Society, which had been active from 1813 to 1823. The founding members of both groups were mostly physicians who were interested in natural history. They were concerned with the collection and display of natural objects, the study of specimens, and public education. The large number of important publications that the Boston Society would eventually produce between 1834 and 1946 commenced with a noteworthy volume of the Boston Journal of Natural History.

After 30 years of effort, capped by the generosity of Dr. William J. Walker, a beautiful museum building was finally completed in 1863. Soon thereafter, professionals who had mostly been trained by Louis Agassiz at Harvard filled the museum positions. From 1870 until his death in 1902, Alpheus Hyatt, an Agassiz student and an exponent of the neo-Lamarckian School, was director of the Boston Society. William Otis Crosby (1850-1925) and George Hunt Barton (1852-1933) were among the Geology professors on the faculty; in 1888-1890 they advertised as “Crosby & Barton” in The Exchanger's Monthly, offering sets of minerals, rocks and fossil for sale as teaching aids.

Hyatt was succeeded by Charles W. Johnson. A paucity of funds during Johnson's tenure caused the trustees to limit the Society's scope to the natural history of New England, and the dispersal of its collections was begun. In 1946, the Society's extensive library was sold, and soon afterwards the museum building was also disposed of. The Society changed its name to the Boston Museum of Science. It was now no longer concerned with research but only with popular education. It is located today in Boston's Science Park beside the Charles River.

Reference:
JOHNSON, R. I. (2004) The rise and fall of the Boston Society of Natural History. Northeastern Naturalist.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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The Mineralogical Record -  Boston Society of Natural History 54 x 83 mm,
Label for a specimen from the George L. Brigham collection.
The Mineralogical Record -  Boston Society of Natural History 54 x 81 mm,
Label for a specimen from the George L. Brigham collection.
The Mineralogical Record -  Boston Society of Natural History 25 x 76 mm
The Mineralogical Record -  Boston Society of Natural History Ad in the November 1889 issue of Exchanger's Monthly.
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