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Thesis (M.S.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1957. Department of Zoology.


Copyright 1957, the author. Used by permission.


It is the intent of this paper to delineate the course of events showing relationships between museums and their environmental factors, especially zoological knowledge.In developing our paper we have followed the scientific method with no attempts to force the evolvement of theories.Our source material was found to be in institution reports, biographies, travel records, and histories of science, zoology, medicine, libraries, education, and human activity peripheral to these.

We traced the museum movement of ancient times.We considered Aristotle and Galen, and evaluated their use of specimens.We presented evidence suggesting that the period during the Dark Ages (200-1050 A. D.) was not without its zoological collections, contrary to the general opinion.The Middle Period (1050-1450 A. D.) with its beginnings of deviation from Authority saw the enrichment of collections by the Crusades; we reviewed Mondino, the anatomist, and his girl assistant Alessandra Giliani.Mention was made of the activities in Natural History at the court of Frederick II.In the following period, we witnessed the founding of large collections by scholars and the nobility; we dwelt on Ruysch and other preparators, seeing for the first time grouping of specimens and descriptive labels.In the America of this time reference was made to the collections possessed by natives before the coming of the Europeans, and how these collections were subsequently one of the bases for a tabulation of the North American fauna. We met Charles Willson Peale, that fabulous character who “invented” the elements of the habitat group and combined them for the education of the scientist and layman alike. The Great Museum Age opened with the scientists taking pride in their vast array of forms and the dawn of great activity in the two interests of zoological research—classification and evolution.

We have reviewed the relationship of museums to advances in the zoological sciences.These advances were reviewed in the fields of the scientific method, organic evolution, taxonomy and classification, biogenetic law, teaching, research, zoogeography and zoological techniques.This review would seem to indicate that museums have truly constituted an important part of the environment of zoological sciences.

Advisor: Irving H. Blake