Institute Of Biology: The First Fifty Years [Book Review]

Isis 93:164-164 (2002)
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After five years of consultation, the Institute of Biology formally organized in early 1950. Its goals were twofold: first, to watch relevant legislation and provide the voice of British biologists on international issues; second, to serve the labor and community needs of British biology in both academic and industrial sectors. Years later the institute expanded to incorporate other roles: consultant accreditation, biology education, degree regulation, and history of biology.This anthology celebrates the institute's fiftieth anniversary. Short papers written by members of the institute's history of biology network focus on particular decades. These are interspersed with brief recollections from select participants in institute activities. Appendixes list institute officers, symposia titles, publications, and details on the organization and events of institute branches.These authors practice history as chronology and fact‐collecting. They ask limited questions of past events. No effort is made to connect institute activities to larger issues. No effort is made to understand why these events took place, what enabled them, or how their character came to be defined. No effort is made to compare what happened here with what happened along similar lines elsewhere in British science, British labor, or the life sciences abroad. No effort is made to justify claims of impact and influence. This book is simply a celebration of activity written for insiders who are celebrating their own achievements. Although they can be proud of their accomplishments, this book fails to offer much meaningful explanation.Edited by Brian J. Ford, this book has two values for analytical historians. First, some reminiscences offer interesting suggestions for future study, such as Sam Berry's tale about proposing a Royal Society of Biology. Second, the simple collecting of facts makes this book useful for reference, though an index would have been helpful. For more than this, historians must look elsewhere



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