Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History/Academy of Science

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Academy of Science.—In 1867 several Kansas naturalists who were interested in scientific investigation, decided to form an organization for scientific research, particularly in its relation to the state and its natural resources. After considerable deliberation with regard to the formation of a society, the projectors published a letter in the Kansas Journal of Education for March, 1868, calling the attention of the people to the benefits which a Natural History Society would be to the state, as it would afford the means of associated effort; give inspiration to naturalists; arouse interest in scientific subjects; put the state in communication with various scientific bodies throughout the country, and collections made by the society would be secured to the state. This letter met with considerable favor and in July a second letter or “call” was sent out, requesting “all persons in the state interested in natural science to meet at Topeka on the first Tuesday in September.”

As a result of this call a meeting of the naturalists was held in Lincoln College, Topeka, Sept. 1, 1868, and an organization was effected under the name of the “Kansas Natural History Society,” with the following officers: B. F. Mudge, president; J. S. Whitman, vice-president; John Parker, secretary; Frank Snow, treasurer, and John A. Banfield, curator. The object of the society, according to the constitution, was “to increase and diffuse a knowledge of science, particularly in its relation to the state of Kansas.”

The second annual meeting was held in the Presbyterian church at Topeka, Sept. 7, 1869, when several scientific papers were read; a lecture on the Mound Builders was delivered, and the officers of the previous year were reëlected. On Sept. 5 and 6, 1870, the third annual meeting was held at the University building at Lawrence. Again papers on scientific subjects were read and the following officers elected: John Fraser, president; B. F. Mudge, vice-president; John D. Parker secretary and librarian; Frank Snow, treasurer; B. F. Mudge and Frank Snow, curators. At this meeting Mr. Fraser suggested that the scope of the society be widened to comprehend the entire scientific field within the state. At the fourth meeting, held in the rooms of the board of education, Leavenworth, Oct. 25, 1871, the by-laws were amended to allow all observers and investigators along scientific lines to become members, and the name was changed to the Kansas Academy of Science. In 1873 the society was incorporated as a state institution. Section 2 of the act of incorporation provided that, “The Academy of Science shall be a coordinate department of the State Department of Agriculture, with their office in the agriculture room, where they shall place and keep for public inspection geological, botanical and other specimens, the same to be under the direction and control of the said Academy of Science.”

In his message to the legislature in 1885, Gov. Martin said, “This is a useful organization, maintained at no expense to the state except the [23] courtesy of having its reports published as a part of the biennial report of the State Board of Agriculture.”

Since 1895 the academy has received legislative appropriations for its support. The members of the academy were instrumental in securing the geographical survey of the state and have taken an interest in the development of the coal beds and natural gas wells.

A majority of the members of the academy are from the educational institutions of the state, who take an interest and are leaders in the important scientific research of the day. At the present time the offices of the academy and the specimens that have been collected are located in the north wing of the state capitol on the fourth floor. The officers of the society for 1911 were as follows: President, J. M. McWharf, of Ottawa; vice-presidents, A. J. Smith, of Emporia, and J. E. Welin, of Lindsborg; treasurer, F. W. Bushong, of Lawrence; secretary, J. T. Lovewell, of Topeka.

Source: Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History 1. (1912) Chicago: Standard Publishing Company. 22–23.