Towards a ‘greater degree of integration’: the Society for the Study of Speciation, 1939–41

British Journal for the History of Science 33 (1):85-108 (2000)
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Abstract

Intellectual and professional reforms in evolutionary studies between 1935 and 1950 included substantial expansion, diversification, and realignment of community infrastructure. Theodosius Dobzhansky, Julian Huxley and Alfred Emerson organized the Society for the Study of Speciation at the 1939 AAAS Columbus meeting as one response to concerns about ‘isolation’ and ‘lack of contact’ among speciation workers worried about ‘dispersed’ and ‘scattered’ resources in this newly robust ‘borderline’ domain. Simply constructed, the SSS sought neither the radical reorganization of specialities nor the creation of some new discipline. Instead, it was designed to facilitate: to simplify exchange of information and to provide a minimally invasive avenue for connecting disparate researchers. Emerson served as SSS secretary and was its principal agent. After publishing one block of publications, however, the SSS became ‘quiescent’. Anxious to promote his own agenda, Ernst Mayr tried to manoeuvre around Emerson in an effort to revitalize the project. After meeting impediments, he moved his efforts elsewhere. The SSS was too short-lived to merit a claim for major impact within the community; however, it reveals important features of community activity during the synthesis period and stands in contrast to later efforts by George Simpson, Dobzhansky, and Mayr

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