Book of the Week: Brooklyn Conchological Club One Hit Wonder

In the history of scientific serials, every now and then out of the great list of titles emerges a singular work from an organization of scientists or a society. Records show that the Brooklyn Conchological Club published only a single volume – Volume 1, Number 1 (1907) – of the Bulletin of the Brooklyn Conchological Club.

The volume is 14 pages in length, has seven pen and ink figures and seven short articles, which are: “Abnormal Shells,” by S.C. Wheat; “A New Varietal Form of Turbo Petholatus,” by Maxwell Smith; “Shells in City Gardens and Ponds,” by S.C. Wheat; “Phorus Conchyliophora,” by F.W. Weaver; “List of Long Island Shell,” by S.C. Wheat; “Shall we have an American Conchological Society” and “Memorandum of Suggestions for the Organization of a National Conchological Society,” by Wm. H. Dall.

One order of business which was presented on page seven of this issue was reporting on the decision to change from the Brooklyn Conchological Club to the American Conchological Society, thereby taking a one time “section” of the Department of Natural History of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences and looking towards creating a national society.

In the article entitled “Shells in the City Gardens and Ponds,” Silas C. Wheat writes, “In my garden in the heart of Brooklyn are innumerable Vallonia pulchella Müller. I have taken 50 good specimens from a space four inches square. In midwinter 16 were found packed in a bit of hollow stem of a plant, the shells fitting snugly in the orifice, and all occupying a little more than an inch in length. In November I have found them active under a half inch of earth and snow. One of these beautiful creatures took its winter nap on the stem of a tropical tree in my window, where the sun blazed upon it for three hours every bright morning without once moving.”

Records show that after this volume nothing else was published by the Club. As we study the history of scientific literature, we might remark that the above observational description would today sit very comfortably as a blog post, yet early scientific literature is often defined by simple, careful, and studious observations of organisms.

This Week’s Book of the Week, Bulletin of the Brooklyn Conchological Club, Volume 1, Number 1 (1907), was contributed by the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

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Matthew Person is a Technical Services Coordinator at the MBLWHOI Library.