Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/846

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822
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE FIRST HALF CENTURY OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION.
By Prof. DANIEL S. MARTIN.

THE recent jubilee meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Boston, where the society was organized fifty years ago, is a memorable event in the history of science in this country, and is well deserving of careful notice. It has been somewhat fully treated of, indeed, in several of our magazines and leading papers, and the general aspects of it must be familiar to most of the readers of these pages. But some consideration is due to so interesting a topic from a review entirely devoted to scientific objects, and it is proposed in this article to give not only some historical aspects of the association and its half century of work, as has been done in most of the articles and addresses that have appeared, but also some suggestions as to the influence that it has exerted on the country, and how that influence may and should be increased in the years to come.

The association itself was the natural and indeed the necessary outgrowth of the earlier organization known as the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists, which held its first meeting at Philadelphia in 1840. That movement began two years before, in 1838, in the suggestion of such a body as eminently desirable, by Prof. Edward Hitchcock, of Amherst College, in a letter to Prof. Henry D. Rogers, of Philadelphia. The two brothers Rogers took up the suggestion earnestly, and, with the active efforts of Professor Hitchcock, brought together the first gathering, which was a notable one both in itself and in its subsequent results. These were foreshadowed at the very outset; the original idea was for a conference of geologists only, but the inevitable expansion was seen in the name selected, in which the words "and Naturalists" were soon added to the proposed title—"Association of American Geologists."

There were eighteen students of the science present at that first meeting, in the Franklin Institute at Philadelphia, Professor Hitchcock being chosen to preside. Among them were nearly all the men actively interested in geological studies and in the early State surveys then beginning or begun. Of that circle of founders only one remains. Dr. Martin H. Boyé, then of Philadelphia, but lately abroad. Prof. James Hall, the veteran head of the New York State Survey, and for some years past the Nestor of American paleontologists, lived to within a few weeks of the Boston jubilee meeting, and his presence was looked forward to with peculiar interest; but he was taken away