General Features Of Societies

Entomological societies share some common features: Membership requires payment of dues to maintain the organization, there is often a "pro forma" election to membership held at a meeting of the society, and prospective members are rarely refused. For example, the only person ever turned down for membership in the New York Entomological Society was "the author of a new version of the theory of spontaneous generation!" Honorary membership (usually limited to a small number) is offered to accomplished and distinguished entomologists in the home country of the society or from other countries. Distinguished Regular members may be elevated to Fellow status. There is often a category of nonlocal membership, usually referred to as "corresponding." Regular meetings are held, at least annually, often more frequently, with guest speakers and the opportunities for members to provide a greater number of shorter presentations. There are constitutions and by-laws, with officers who preside over business meetings. Field trips ("field days") to collect insects were a major feature of 19th and early 20th century society meetings, and annual meeting circulars and programs will suggest collecting opportunities near to meeting sites. Some societies have a tradition of insect protection: As early as 1896, the Royal Entomological Society (London) (RES) had a committee to look into protecting British insects from extinction. In 1988, the RES became the first entomological society to join the International Union of Conservation of Nature. But as far back as the second International Congress of Entomology, held at Oxford in 1912, N. C. Rothschild spoke on steps taken to protect insects in Great Britain. The British Entomology and Natural History Society formed several Conservation Working Groups in 1994 to bring the expertise of its members to bear on matters relating to conservation of the invertebrate fauna of the United Kingdom and to express the field naturalists' views of which species deserve special attention.

The publications of these societies—as proceedings, journals, memoirs, annals, bulletins, and newsletters—have been the main vehicle for dissemination of scientific information and more personal information about the work and lives of entomologists since the founding of the early societies. For example, many societies begin a publishing program the same year or soon after their founding (the French began Annales in 1832, the year the Société Entomologique de France was founded; the Royal Entomological Society (London) began its Transactions in 1834, a year after its founding). Publications have served as a medium of exchange with other societies in order to build up another feature, that of society library. The American Entomological Society library, with over 15,000 volumes, has been incorporated since 1947 into the Academy of Natural Sciences (Philadelphia, PA) library; the Pacific Coast Entomological Society does not maintain a separate library, but journals received in exchange for its publication, the Pan-Pacific Entomologist, and books received for review therein are deposited in the library of its host institution, the California Academy of Sciences.

Several societies (for example, the Amateur Entomologists' Society, Orthopterists' Society, Entomological Society of America) have produced a series of handbooks and guides for identifying insects and have a regular publishing program outside of the usual journal- and memoir-type series. The Brooklyn Entomological Society (BES) took as a goal the publication of alphabetical lists of scientific terms used in technical descriptions in entomology. The first entomological vocabulary published in North America was 800 terms and definitions, in Vol. 6 of the Bulletin of the BES in 1886. This was followed in 1906 by the BES-sponsored Glossary, an Explanation of Terms Used in Entomology by J. B. Smith (4000 entries). The BES published J. A. Torre-Bueno's A Glossary of Entomology in 1937 (10,000 terms, 12,000 definitions), and a supplement to it in 1960 by G. S. Tulloch added 500 new terms and revised 160 others. The Entomological Society of America publishes the only society-sponsored list of insect common names; in other countries this is usually a function of the department or ministry of agriculture.

Insect collections of societies and their members have become important components of the holdings of large institutions: For example, the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia has the collection of the American Entomological Society; the New York Entomological Society collection has been incorporated into those of the American Museum of Natural History. Members of the Pacific Coast Entomological Society often deposit type specimens of species described in the Society's journal (Pan-Pacific Entomologist) with the collection of the California Academy of Sciences. Society collections have at times been controversial: The (third) Aurelian Society in England, founded in 1801, dissolved 5 years later because of the odious requirement that members donate their best specimens to a central society collection. Disagreements over the deposition and loan of specimens of the Entomological Society of Philadelphia collection led to its expulsion in 1862 of its first president, the eminent coleopterist John L. LeConte.

Another feature of some societies is a youth program: Membership is offered to young people at a discounted rate, special publications are aimed at them, occasional exhibits are developed to tour schools or be displayed at annual meetings, and field days featuring insect collecting trips are planned. The New York Entomological Society formed a Junior Division in 1958. The Entomological Society ofAmerica has had a Youth Membership category since 1989. The Young Entomologists' Society (U.S.A.) traces its origin to the Teen International Entomology Group, founded in 1965 by a teenager as a worldwide correspondence club to exchange letters and specimens with like-minded teens around the world.

These youth programs may take time to develop. For example, the Royal Entomological Society (London) Youth Development Scheme of 1990 had hopes of local and regional participation by its Fellows, which did not materialize, and the program failed a year later. But from it came the Bug Club, now a national organization in Great Britain.

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