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Wallace and the Croydon Natural History Society

Wallace and the Croydon Natural History Society (page 1)

Catalogue number: WP1/8/36

Letter from Frank Roberts of the Croydon Natural History Society giving details on Wallace's connections with the society and his proposal that women should be permitted to join, dated February 1913.

In this letter, Frank Roberts, Honorary Secretary of the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society, provided Wallace with details of his involvement with the group. Roberts outlines the proceedings where Wallace was present and to which he made contributions. For example, in November 1878 he exhibited butterflies from the Malay Archipelago.

In 1880, Wallace made the radical proposal that women should be allowed in as visitors to the society. The motion was discussed, but lost 80 votes to 15. Wallace persevered and changed the motion - 'that the reader of the paper be allowed the privilege of having lady visitors introduced on the occasion when his paper is read...' Again, this motion was lost. Despite his lack of success, Roberts says that Wallace paved the way for such change and by 1913 the first 'lady member' of the council was elected.

Roberts ended the letter in admiration of Wallace. 'I am proud to belong to a Society with which you were associated in such an interesting way, and I thought you might be pleased to have "old times" recalled, especially in view of the good fruit borne by your pioneering work in the cause of women.' Indeed, Wallace was a 'pioneer' in many respects - both social and scientific.

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Letter to Alfred Russel Wallace from the Royal Society, about his Darwin Medal award

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