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MS - 010: The Papers of the Linnaean Association

Processed by: Melodie Foster
May 2000

Agency Sketch:
The Linnaean Association was founded on June 8, 1844 to aid "the advancement of science in Pennsylvania College, by fostering among its members a spirit of investigation, and a love for the works of God." (Constitution 1844) During its first decade of existence, the Association collected and maintained a widely acclaimed specimen cabinet, arranged for and helped with the construction of Linnaean Hall (1845-1847), published four volumes of the Literary Record and Journal of the Linnaean Association of Pennsylvania College (1844-1848), created a small library, planted hundreds of trees and flowers, and constructed numerous paths across campus.

ms010

 

Membership was open to students of Pennsylvania College and the Theological Seminary. Men who were seen by the society as significantly advancing the cause of science were granted honorary membership. Unlike in the literary societies, honorary members played an active role in the Linnaean Association; the president was elected from among their ranks, and their work filled the pages of the Literary Record and Journal. Student members researched, wrote, and presented essays on scientific questions, and the association sponsored lecturers and commencement speakers. The association was highly active during its first decade of existence, but fell into inactivity in 1862. It was revived by the faculty in 1876, but was declared dead by the College Monthly in 1881.

 

Scope and Content Notes:
The collection is arranged into four series, I. Pamphlets, II. Literary Record and Journal, III. Library, IV. Records and Papers.

The Linnaean Association collection is varied in its makeup. Series I consists largely of the published versions of addresses given by association-sponsored speakers between 1844 and 1861. Series II contains a number of copies of the four volumes of the faculty publication The Literary Record and Journal of the Linnaean Association of Pennsylvania College, both bound and unbound. Volume III is in scarcest supply, and many editions are incomplete. Series III contains items from the Library of the Linnaean Association: scientific journals from the 1830s and 1840s and a bound collection of catalogues and scientific articles from various sources.

The bulk of the collection is contained in Series IV. Constitutions and minute books cover the entire period of the association's life, and the treasurer's account books have only a small gap. Also included are multiple catalogues of the specimen collection and a list of subscribers to the Literary Record and Journal (the cost was one dollar per year). Correspondence spans the years 1844-1861, and relates primarily to the Record and Journal. A number of letters from honorary members and John G. Morris, the first president of the association, were bound into one volume.

An interesting part of the collection is the folder of 93 essays written by active members for presentation at weekly meetings. They are illustrative of the nature and focus of the Victorian science of which the association was a direct product.

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