Organising the Society for the Study of Speciation was a simple affair in 1939.
The job of implementing its vision fell upon the entomologist Alfred Emerson, recruited to serve as Secretary. ‘The need was felt by many students of speciation for a greater degree of integration between the various fields,’ he wrote.
Emerson posted the Society’s first batch of material in March 1941. This featured a 29-page news bulletin, including a specially written review of Julian Huxley’s ‘highly important’ book, New Systematics, as well as an address list for the Society’s 374 members and a colossal 1,250-item bibliography listing relevant papers since 1938. The bibliography is a fascinating cross section of research into speciation, organised in ways Emerson thought appropriate for this fast developing topic.
Viewed from a distance, the Society was off to a strong start. But such optimism was mistaken. Emerson’s first communication was the Society’s last. By 1942, it was dead.
Regular Contact with Anyone Interested reprints these little known documents Emerson circulated in 1941. These are the first and only materials distributed on behalf of the Society for the Study of Speciation. This was a predecessor to the Society for the Study of Evolution. Few copies have survived the intervening years, and these have been used only rarely by historians interested in evolutionary theory. To these original documents, Cain adds a brief introduction, editorial notes, and a summary of his detailed analysis of the Society’s membership.
Joe Cain is Professor of History and Philosophy of Biology at University College London. He specializes in the history of evolutionary biology and the history of science and society in London.
Cain, Joe (editor). 2007. Regular Contact with Anyone Interested: Documents of the Society for the Study of Speciation. 2nd edition (London: Euston Grove Press), v+103 pages.
ISBN13: 978-1-906267-00-1 (paperback)
Recommended price: GBP£29.99
dimensions: A4 11.7 x 8.3 (inches)
dimensions: A4 297 x 210 (mm)
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Regular Contact with Anyone Interested is designed to complement another book of documents related to the synthesis period in evolutionary studies:
Joe Cain (ed). 2004. Exploring the Borderlands: Documents of the Committee on Common Problems of Genetics, Paleontology, and Systematics, 1943-1944. (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society), 160 pages. ISBN13: 0-87169-942-7. (more)