A Century of Science Virtual Exhibition

A Century of Science: An Internationally Recognized Journal of Scientific Research from St. Louis, 1856-1950

Welcome to The Academy of Science of St. Louis online exhibit – A Century of Science: An Internationally Recognized Journal of Scientific Research from St. Louis, 1856 – 1950. In 1856, The Academy of Science – St. Louis was formed to promote the studies of Zoology, Botany, Geology, Mineralogy, Paleontology, Ethnology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Meteorology, WholeCollectionComparative Anatomy and Physiology. These twelve fields of study are what made up the basis of the scientific journals called, The Transactions of The Academy of Science of St. Louis. The Transactions comprise the majority of the Academy’s collection today. This collection also contains information and papers on the natural history and geology of the American Midwest.

We hope that you enjoy browsing through this collection of St. Louis science history. Click on the links below in order to learn more about the Academy’s collection, the founders of the Academy, and how science has progressed since 1856.

Transactions of The Academy of Science –
St. Louis:

The Academy of Science – St. Louis’ collection includes copies of the Transactions spanning from the year 1856-1970. Click to view the collection, learn about highlights of the collection and see the importance of the Transactions as a scientific journal based in the city of St. Louis.


People of the Academy:

There are many people who founded and contributed to The Academy of Science of St. Louis beginning in 1856. These early founders, scientists, researchers and naturalists also contributed to the writing of the Transactions of the Academy of Science of St. Louis. This tab highlights a selection of the people who contributed to the Transactions of the Academy of Science.

Click on the tab below in order to search through and read about some of the Academy’s most influential people.


The Academy of Science- St. Louis Today:

Advancing the public understanding of science and promoting interest in the sciences to students and adults through accessible, year-round seminars and educational initiatives.

Through this link, meet scientists of
St. Louis and learn their thoughts on the past, present,and future of science
in St. Louis.

Highlights throughout the years: The Academy of Science of St. Louis


The Western Academy of Science of Natural Sciences of St. Louis was founded as a forerunner of The Academy of Science of St. Louis. Science gained a foothold on the western bank of the Mississippi River in 1836 when a group of amateur scientists, most of them recent arrivals from the East and foreign countries, established a private society for the advancement of science. This beginning organization was called, “The St. Louis Association of Natural Sciences,” but soon changed its name to, “Western Academy of Natural Sciences of St. Louis.”


On March 10th, 1856, The Academy of Science of St. Louis had its first official meeting. At that meeting, an election was held and positions were filled. The Academy’s first elected president was a man by the name of George Engelmann, who at that time was known for his works in botany, physics and meteorology. Other members that attended this first meeting included 11 physicians (one being George Engelmann’s good pal, Friedreich A. Wislizenus), 1 lawyer, 1 engineer, James Buchannan Eads, and a businessman. They began a division of The Academy of Science – St. Louis to promote the advancement of science in the rapidly evolving town of St. Louis, Missouri.

The other names of the men that attended this first meeting include: Charles P. Chouteau, Esq., Nathaniel Holmes, Esq., Moses S. Linton, M.D., William M. McPheeters, M.D., Moses M. Pallen, M.D., Simon Pollack, M.D., John H. Watters, M.D., Charles A. Pope, M.D., Benjamin F. Shummard, M.D., William H. Tingley, M.D., and Hiram A. Prout, M.D.


The Academy kept its collections in the O’Fallon Dispensary building at the St. Louis Medical College, where many of the specimens where displayed in locked cases making this The Academy’s first public museum where the public could visit the small museum free of charge on Tuesdays and Fridays from one o’clock until sunset.

In 1869, a fire in the Dispensary building destroyed the collections. However, members of The Academy continued collect after the fire broke out. The Academy’s library, also stored in the Dispensary, survived the fire only slightly damaged.


The Academy’s library, largest of its kind west of the Allegheny Mountains, contains over 3,000 books and nearly 8,000 issues of scientific periodicals.


Major acquisitions include a collection of 10,000 paleontological specimens, 600 butterflies and several hundred pots and dozens of skulls from Missouri Indian Mounds.


Number of the Academy’s articles and papers on Western geology and natural history decrease and papers on laboratory research increase.


The Academy of Science of St. Louis purchases first museum at 3817 Olive Blvd.


Mineral specimens received from the Department of Mines and Metallurgy at the 1904 World’s Fair, along with specimens from Arizona’s Petrified Forest, Indian artifacts from Alaska, and fossils.


Academy enlarges museum.


A special memorial issue of Transactions is published to honor the outstanding work of Academy member, Dr. Charles Henry Turner, researcher and educator.


Academy sponsors work of scientists during depression- including investigations and collection of artifacts of Native Americans in the Mississippi River Valley. Historical and valuable artifacts became part of the collections of the Academy, the Smithsonian, and the Missouri Resource Museum.


The Junior Academy of Science is established and attracts a great number of students, who form chapters in schools throughout the area.


The Academy increases science education by moving to a larger museum in Oak Knoll Park and names it “Museum of Science and Natural History.” The Hall of Man, the Transparent Woman, the Stories of Flight, and Lightning draw hundreds of thousands of visitors.


The museum provides permanent exhibits such as, “Hall of Evolution,” and an outdoor diorama with life-sized models of Tyrannosaurs Rex and Triceratops, and traveling exhibits: ” Moon Rocks” and “Polluted Environment.”


The Academy endorses the St. Louis Zoo-Museum District and development of a Science Center in conjunction with the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. The Academy transfers priceless collections but maintains organizational autonomy.


In 1995, the Academy’s prestigious Fellows Society launches the St. Louis Outstanding Scientist Awards, honoring world-class professionals in science and engineering/technology.


The Academy assumes responsibility for the Greater St. Louis Science Fair.


The Academy is considered a model of science outreach for the country and continues to be fully funded by an enlightened and appreciative community of science and advocates.

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