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Natural History Museum

Society for the Bibliography of Natural History (Society for the History of Natural History)


Reference code(s): GB 0060 SB

Held at: Natural History Museum

Title: Society for the Bibliography of Natural History (Society for the History of Natural History)

Date(s): 1936-1999

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 6 series

Name of creator(s): Society for the Bibliography of Natural History x Society for the History of Natural History


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Society for the Bibliography of Natural History was founded in 1936 by a small number of naturalists and bibliographers based at the Natural History Museum and Royal Entomological Society, led by C Davies Sherborn, Francis Griffin and Francis Hemming. Sherborn was elected the first President, and Griffin the Honorary Secretary. The prime concern of the Society in its early years was to establish the accurate dates of publication of works of taxonomic significance as a contribution to zoological and botanical nomenclature. The purpose of the Society, as stated, was 'the study of the bibliography of all branches of natural history, and the promotion of the study by the issue of publications and the maintenance of a correspondence bureau'. Although no correspondence bureau was to materialise, the first number of the 'Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History' appeared in October 1936. Originally concerned strictly with bibliography, the society rapidly became a focal point for those interested in the wider history of natural history. It was renamed the Society for the History of Natural History (SHNH) in 1981. The Society's journal, now entitled 'Archives of Natural History', is published in 3 parts every year, and a Newsletter, occasional facsimiles and conference proceeding are also published. The Society has always held an Annual General Meeting, and in the late 1960s evening meetings were held at University College London each winter.

A more ambitious series of conferences and other meetings began in 1974, and continues. Officers of the Society include a President, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, Honorary Editor and (from 1979) a Meetings Secretary. There is also a Committee (Council from 1986) consisting of nine members, with coopted Representatives in North America, Australasia, Central Europe and other areas.. In 1996 membership of the society numbered 650.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History, 1936-1999, including minute books, 1936-1990; Secretary's correspondence and files, 1936-1985; membership application forms, 1950-1985; financial records, 1936-1987; editorial records, 1986-1999 and the historical collection.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

In sections as outlined in the scope and content.

Conditions governing access:

By appointment with the Archivist, by email to or by post to the Museum Archivist, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD.

Conditions governing reproduction:

At the Archivist's discretion. Photocopying service available. Digital photography (without flash) permitted for research purposes on completion of a photography permit form.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited by officers of the SHNH.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Entry copied from the Natural History Museum online catalogue by Sarah Drewery.
References: Norman, J R, 1944. Squire. Memories of Charles Davies Sherborn. George G Harrap, London. 202 pp Wheeler, A : The Society for the Bibliography of Natural History - An account of its formation and activities; Private Library, summer 1971, 65 - 69

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Nov 2008

Bibliographies | Secondary documents
Natural history

Personal names

Corporate names
Society for the Bibliography of Natural History