Modern biology arose from a number of sources including medicine, agriculture, animal husbandry, and `natural history.` Historians of science have already examined how natural history affected the rise of modern biology in England, especially with respect to Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. But, just as the United States does not represent all of progressive science that is currently being undertaken in the world today, England certainly did not represent all of the major contributions to the rise of modern biology. Indeed, one of the most significant traditions in the rise of modern biology came from German natural history of animals. It is this subject that Dr. Nyhart is examining. By analyzing the history, social organization, and intellectual contributions of institutions of natural history that lay largely outside the university realm, Dr. Nyhart seeks to provide the first integrated picture of activities surrounding natural history. These activities extend across a spectrum from the popular end (fireworks at the zoo) all the way to the most esoteric scientific studies (the systematics and anatomy of sponges). In doing so, she has two aims: first to broaden our sense of the culture of German natural history and biology and second to identify the sources of the great upsurge in interest in animal geography and `biology.` This interest in the study of the living animal in relation to its conditions of existence became the basis for new research streams in animal behavior, ecology, and evolutionary studies. Dr. Nyhart is using archival sources in Berlin as well as all over the rest of Germany. She is examining university papers, government archives, and materials in museums, zoos, aquariums, independent natural history societies and even private firms. Her study promises to extend our understanding of the origins of several biological fields beyond the narrow Anglo-American focus that we currently confront.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Bruce E. Seely
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University of Wisconsin Madison
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