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Title: Collecting, curating and the construction of zoological knowledge : Walter Rothschild's zoological enterprise, c. 1878-1937
Author: Larsson, Elle
ISNI:       0000 0004 9350 5883
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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Late-Victorian banker and private collector Lionel Walter Rothschild (1868-1937) dedicated his life to the study of zoology. Often dismissed by historians as an ‘eccentric amateur’, he engaged in a wide range of zoological activities, which this thesis defines as an ‘enterprise’: he collected and studied huge quantities of zoological material, created a museum in which to house and display it for the benefit of researchers and visiting publics, and started his own zoological journal for disseminating the research that he, his museum curators and other zoologists performed. This thesis departs from recent historical literature, which tends to compartmentalise the investigation of collecting, museums, journals and zoological research, to explore their historical co-development. It demonstrates the multiple connections between these activities that together constituted museum-based zoological knowledge and practice in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Britain. In exploring their intersections and synergies, it presents new and fruitful insights into the history of natural history, and establishes Rothschild as a far more significant contributor to this field than historians have previously realised. Standard historical narratives present this period as a time of professionalisation within the British life sciences, emphasising the emergence of specialist, professional and experimental biologists who occupied the growing number of paid positions within laboratories, universities and government departments. These narratives have however neglected to give critical attention to those who, like Rothschild, remained outside of the professional establishment in this period. In contrast, this thesis illustrates his importance, and that of the diverse cast of individuals involved in the world of natural history. It argues that only by examining the totality of the zoological enterprise and the multiple intersections between its practices, institutions, publications and personalities, can the historical significance of such individuals be revealed and understood.
Supervisor: Woods, Abigail ; Buckland, Adelene Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available