Boston Society of Natural History

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New England Museum of Natural History, corner of Boylston and Berkeley Streets, Back Bay, Boston, 19th century
Boston Society of Natural History and Rogers Building, Photographie

The Boston Society of Natural History (1830–1948) in Boston, Massachusetts, was an organization dedicated to the study and promotion of natural history. It published a scholarly journal and established a museum. In its first few decades, the society occupied several successive locations in Boston's Financial District, including Pearl Street, Tremont Street and Mason Street. In 1864 it moved into a newly constructed museum building at 234 Berkeley Street in the Back Bay, designed by architect William Gibbons Preston. In 1951 the society evolved into the Museum of Science, and relocated to its current site on the Charles River.[1][2]


Emblem of the BSNH, adopted in 1842. Depicts Georges Cuvier

Founders of the society in 1830 included Amos Binney Jr.; Edward Brooks; Walter Channing; Henry Codman; George B. Emerson; Joshua B. Flint; Benjamin D. Greene; Simon E. Greene; William Grigg; George Hayward; D. Humphreys Storer; and John Ware. Several had previously been involved with the Linnaean Society of New England. By 1838, the society held "regular meetings on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month."[3] "In its collection are about 700 specimens in mineralogy and geology, besides the rich collection of Dr. C.T. Jackson, and the state collection; botany, 5,000; mammalia, 30 entire skeletons and 30 crania; birds, 200 species; reptiles, 130; insects, about 15,000; crustacea, 130; radiata, 190. Library, 600 volumes and pamphlets; the room ... gratuitously opened to the public every Wednesday from 12 to 2 o'clock."[3]

Among the many scholars and curators affiliated with the society: Alexander Emanuel Agassiz; T.T. Bouve; Thomas Mayo Brewer; George Emerson; A.A. Gould; F.W.P. Greenwood; Charles Thomas Jackson; Charles Sedgwick Minot; Albert Ordway; Samuel Hubbard Scudder; Charles J. Sprague; Alpheus Hyatt, and Jeffries Wyman.

"After World War II, under the leadership of Bradford Washburn, the society sold the Berkeley Street building, changed its name to the Boston Museum of Science. ... The cornerstone for the new Museum was laid at Science Park [in 1949] and a temporary building was erected to house the Museum's collections and staff. In 1951, the first wing of the new Museum officially opened."[4]





See also[edit]



  1. ^ P. Creed, ed; the Boston Society of Natural History, 1830–1930. Boston: 1930.
  2. ^ Richard I. Johnson; the Rise and Fall of the Boston Society of Natural History. Northeastern Naturalist, Vol. 11, No. 1 (2004), pp. 81–108.
  3. ^ a b Boston Almanac. 1838.
  4. ^ Museum of Science, Boston. History of the Museum of Science. Retrieved 05-01-2010

Further reading

Publications of the society

External links[edit]

  • Boston Museum of Science
  • Hancock Library, University of Southern California. Acquired the library of the Boston Society of Natural History in 1944–1946.
  • "Whatever Happened to our Flamingo?". The Beehive (blog). Massachusetts Historical Society. 2010. (Describes items given to the Boston Society of Natural History in the 1830s)