|Abstract or Summary
- In 1959 the British Ornithological journal, The Ibis, published a centenary commemorative volume on the history of ornithology in Britain. Over the previous few decades, the contributors to this volume had helped focus the attention of ornithologists on the methods, priorities, and problems of modem biology, specifically the theory ofevolution by natural selection and the study ofecology and behaviour. Various new institutions like the Edward Grey Institute ofField Ornithology symbolized the increasing professionalization of both the discipline's institutional networks and publications, which the contents of The Ibis reflected in its increasing number ofcontributions from university educated ornithologists working on specific biological problems.
In looking back on the history of their discipline, the contributors to this centenary described both nineteenth century ornithology and the continued dominance oftraditional work in the pages of The Ibis in distinctive ways. They characterized them as oriented around specimens, collections, the seemingly endless gathering of facts, without reference to theoretical problems. The centenary contributors then juxtaposed this portrait in opposition to the contents ofa modem volume, with its use of statistics, graphs, and tables, and the focus ofornithologists on both natural selection and the living bird in its natural environment. This thesis returns to the contents ofthe pre-1940s volumes of The Ibis in order to examine the context and intent ofthose ornithologists characterized as "hide-bound" by the centenary contributors. In doing so it focuses on the methodological shifts inherent in ornithological
work whose value to ornithologists changed over time, the importance of transitions in authority in changing the dominant research program of ornithology, and the contested nature of new methods and priorities that "revolutionized" the field. In comparing the contents of The Ibis to the historical narratives of the centenary contributors, this thesis contributes to the historical analysis of factors involved in disciplinary change, the impact of changing philosophies of science upon research programs, and the development of modem biology's priorities and methods.