Ninety-five Years Ago Tonight

On February 24, 1921, Chauncey J. Hawkins delivered a paper at the meeting of the Linnaean Society of New York. His title and his topic: “Philosophical Ornithology.”

Reverend Hawkins suggested that the goal of the scientific study of birds should be explaining their relationship to the rest of the universe — an early statement of the project later to be known as “ecology.”

The Linnaeans weren’t overly enthusiastic.

In the discussion that followed, it was the opinion of the members that Mr. Hawkins’s paper was one of destructive, rather than┬áconstructive, criticism.

We’re a much nicer crowd nowadays.