Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Don't Skip the Title Page

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Don't Skip the Title Page

Article excerpt

The book On the Origin of Species introduced the theory that populations evolve over time as a result of natural selection. While the book's content was controversial, its title page was typical. It included the book's complete title (On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation Of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life), the name of the person responsible for its content (Charles Darwin, M.A.), the publisher (John Murray), the place of publication (London), and the year of publication (1859). It had no illustrations.

But, the simple page warrants a second look.

Below Darwin's name appeared clues about his work and the larger scientific community of the mid-1800s. Small capital letters read:

FELLOW OF THE ROYAL, GEOLOGICAL, LINNEAN, ETC. SOCIETIES; AUTHOR OF "JOURNAL OF RESEARCHES DURING H.M.S. BEAGLE'S VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD"

Of those three named societies, the Royal Society was founded first, in 1660, with a mission to improve natural knowledge. It received a Royal Charter from King Charles II two years later. In 1687 the Royal Society published Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica. Next came the Geological Society, formed in 1807 by 13 distinguished scientists in London for the purpose of making geologists "acquainted with each other, of stimulating their zeal, of inducing them to adopt one nomenclature, of facilitating the communications of new facts and of ascertaining what is known in their science and what remains to be discovered." And, finally, the Linnean Society--named for the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus, who formalized the modern system of naming living organisms--was founded in 1788 to cultivate the science of natural history in all its branches. …

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