Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences—Timeline

Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences—Timeline

“The object of this Academy is to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest and happiness of a free and virtuous people.” — From the two-page constitution of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences adopted in 1799 and part of the incorporation in October of that year.

1786 Connecticut Society of Arts and Sciences, a voluntary group, formed under leadership of Ezra Stiles, then president of Yale College

1795 Ezra Stiles dies; Timothy Dwight becomes Yale president

1799 March 4 The Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences formed as a voluntary organization; Oct 22 chartered by the State of Connecticut.

1800 Jan 1, the Academy sent out sent out questionnaire for “A Statistical History of Connecticut,” later called Statistical Account of Connecticut. This was an ambitious project unlike those pursued by American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia or the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston. Founders believed the project would generate factual data that would lead to sound public policy, correct legislation and greater human happiness for Connecticut and the whole republic. 32 questions (each with sub questions); Noah Webster the primary author.

1804 Noah Webster pledges endowment to CAAS

1810 Memoirs 1 published. First paper in the volume “ …on the supposed change of temperature of winter” by Noah Webster. This was reprinted in 1999.

1811 “Statistical Account of New Haven” by Timothy Dwight and others, published to provide a model for other respondents.

1817 Timothy Dwight dies and Jeremiah Day becomes Yale and CAAS president.

1818 American Journal of Science initiated by Benjamin Silliman; CAAS publications in hiatus for 40 years.

1836 Benjamin Silliman becomes president of CAAS

1839 Josiah Willard Gibbs, Sr. communicates with Amistad community to facilitate translation from Mende to English.

1842 Food and drink discontinued at meetings—deemed too distracting.

1846 Town reports manuscripts loaned to the Connecticut Historical Society where most still remain.

1859 Chester S. Lyman elected president of CAAS; served until 1877.

1862 Sheffield Scientific School provides CAAS with permanent meeting place.

1866 New series of publications —Transactions — commences.

1874-78 J. Willard Gibbs, Jr. publishes “On the Equilibrium of Heterogenous Substances.”

1870s Peabody Museum founded, Othniel Marsh explores the west finding dinosaur bones.

1882 Katherine Jeanette Bush published in TR6 on shallow water mollusks off Cape Hatteras—first woman to be published by CAAS. She was an assistant at the Peabody Museum who later earned a doctorate in zoology.

1899 Centennial Celebration

1906 Subvention from Yale Library $1500 per year. The Yale Corporation requested that the Academy broaden its scope of interest to align itself with original “arts and sciences” designation. Yale Library absorbed the Academy’s library including the exchange (with other institutions) volumes.

1910 Memoirs reinstated to provide for longer in-depth publications. The first of these was Osteology of Pteranodon, by George F Eaton, secretary of the Academy and publications chairman. Memoirs 9 and 10 recounted the Yale North India Expedition with articles on geology, paleontology and biology. (1934-1936) G. Evelyn Hutchinson was biologist for the expedition. He published several articles for transactions over the years and is known by some as “father of ecology.”

1911 Mary Davis Swartz Rose became the first woman elected as a member. She studied Physiological Chemistry at the Sheffield Scientific School. She joined in January and resigned in Nov to teach at Columbia teachers College. Several other women joined in the decade following.

1916 Publication of the Well’s Manual, first series. John Edwin Wells, Professor of English at Connecticut College continued to add supplements until 1951. The publication then became the Manual of Writings in Middle English 1050-1500. Eleven volumes were completed— J. Burke Severs at Lehigh was general editor for vols 1 and 2, Albert Hartung, also of Lehigh, oversaw vols 3-10 and Peter Beidler, retired from Lehigh, edited vol 11.

1931 Alexander Pentrunkevich became president, held office until 1946. Over 45 years he published 45 articles in the Transactions—the majority on American spiders but also on Russia’s contributions to science.

1946 Dorothea Rudnick elected secretary and served in that position for 40 years. Holding a doctorate in zoology from the University of Chicago she became chairman of the biology department at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven.

1949 University of Connecticut, Storrs, became affiliated with the Academy with one meeting per year held there.

1973 New contract with Yale increases annual subvention to $3000. This was to pay for publication and mailing of the exchanges—there were 440 exchange partners at this time (by early 21st century the number had decreased to about 200). Yale Library kept all incoming exchange volumes.

1974 Wesleyan University becomes affiliated.

1984 Southern Connecticut University becomes affiliated. H Catherine Skinner becomes the first woman elected president of the Academy.

1990 Trinity College becomes affiliated.

1999 Bicentennial celebration April 16-18. Franklin Robinson, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery at Yale Medical School was then president. Several leaders of the Academy in the 1990s and early 2000s were affiliated with the Medical School. Meetings covered a wide variety of subjects with more arts, history, political science, medicine and interdisciplinary topics. Publications turned more to the history of science. The Colonial Burying Grounds of Eastern Connecticut and the Men Who Made Them (Me 21 1987 and 1996) by James Slater was the first publication to return to Connecticut History since the first decade of the Academy’s history.

2000 Quinnipiac University affiliated with the Academy.

2003 The Connecticut Towns Reports were finally all published as Voices of the New Republic ME 25 and 26 with a volume of interpretive essays. The publication was meant for the bicentennial but was delayed a bit longer. A grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council funded the publication. At this time Ernest Kohorn was president and Margot Kohorn the secretary. They continued the practice of diverse meeting topics, encouraging younger scholars and bringing in scholars and members of color.

2015-present   Gregory Tignor, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology, became the first person of color elected president of CAAS and introduced members to a diverse group of scholars in several fields. Gerald Jaynes, the A. Whitney Griswold Professor of Economics, African American Studies, and Urban Studies, current President of CAAS, brought concepts of equality and just access in healthcare and other areas to the membership. He is the first political activist since Timothy Dwight to lead the Academy.

[compiled by Sandra Rux; with some information from Mary Ellen Ellsworth]