Today is Darwin’s birthday, and ‘A global celebration of science and reason‘. Of course, here in the Geology Castle, every day is a global celebration of science and reason, but we’re happy for any excuse to celebrate the great man. (And post more pictures of his crocheted alter ego.)
As we’re always keen to point out, in an age where science was less compartmentalised, Darwin was as much a geologist, perhaps more so, than anything else. He joined the Geological Society in 1836, at the tender age of 27.
In July of that year, still aboard The Beagle, Darwin wrote to his old friend and tutor, John Stevens Henslow;
“I am very anxious to belong to the Geolog: Society. I do not know, but I suppose, it is necessary to be proposed some time before being balloted for, if such is the case, would you be good enough to take the proper preparatory steps”
As our Archivist Caroline attests, joining was a more complicated business in the nineteenth century than it is now.
“To become a Fellow, a candidate had to be first proposed and recommended by at least three existing members, one of whom should personally know the prospective member. The proposal was in the form of an admission certificate, usually completed by the main proposer, which would be displayed in one of the public rooms of the Society.”
Henslow duly took the proper preparatory steps, and wrote to the Geological Society, proposing Darwin’s membership.
Henslow’s letter came with an application form, which he filled out himself.
The primary proposer is Henslow, Adam Sedgwick is second, followed by Hutton (possibly Thomas), John Forbes Royle, William Clift and Woodbine Parish.
And the rest, of course, is history. Darwin was a Fellow of the Geological Society for the remainder of his life, and served as Secretary between 1838 – 1841. He has recently been reincarnated in crocheted form, and continues to be one of our best loved and well known former Fellows.