In February 1905 the Oregon State Academy of Sciences formed in
Portland to promote scientific research and diffusion of scientific
knowledge in Oregon. The founders also planned to assist in the
discovery and development of the state's natural resources. The
Academy was the first scientific society in Oregon with professional
statewide involvement and leadership. Representatives from all
important colleges and universities in the state attempted to create a
solid, cooperative scientific institution.
The Academy of Sciences emerged during a period in Portland's
history when its cultural demeanor matured and various social
institutions were established. The Lewis and Clark Centennial
Exposition in 1905 acted as a catalyst for the Academy's founding
through the efforts of Edmund P. Sheldon, the fair's Superintendent of
Forestry. Sheldon was the prime mover of the Academy and served as
its president for the first three years.
During the span of its existence the Academy of Sciences held
migratory annual meetings in the Willamette Valley. It also had a
temporary, yet significant association with the City Free Museum in
Portland between 1905-1909. In 1910 the Academy became legally
incorporated, but by 1914 its activity had ceased.
When the Academy organized, it satisfied the institutional needs
of a substantial number of recently arrived professional scientists.
These professionals, coming from the midwestern and northeastern
Unites States primarily, intended to duplicate the scientific
societies they were familiar with. The Academy's membership--about
90 active participants--was a mixture of college-based professionals
and amateur naturalists, however, and this caused resentment within
the society. The conflict between the two factions was partly
responsible for its decline.
Because of its short life and position in the sequence of state
academies of science, the Oregon State Academy of Sciences is
interpreted as a transitional organization, functioning after the
amateur-led Oregon Academy of Sciences (1892-1897?) and before the
professionally oriented Oregon Academy of Science (1943-present). The
Academy's previous obscurity resulted from confusion with these other
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