Alison Bashford, a scientia professor of history at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and director of the Laureate Centre for History and Population, will present a lecture about the Julian Huxley papers’ influence on her new book April 24 at Rice’s Fondren Library, where the papers are housed.
Huxley was among the first faculty members at Rice in 1912, teaching biology. He returned to Europe in 1916, during World War I, and went on to become an important international voice in evolutionary theory and its significance for potential human development, ecology, the preservation of wildlife and population control.
The Huxley papers include journals, scrapbooks, sketches and photographs by and about Julian and Juliette Huxley, his wife, covering his research, family life and travels to Africa, Australia and Europe.
Bashford will reveal some of the treasures in the Huxley papers, which are held in the archives of the Woodson Research Center in Fondren, and how she weaved them into a story of a family, biological sciences and the modern world in her book, “The Huxleys: An Intimate History of Evolution.” She will be in conversation with Rice biologist Scott Solomon.
Bashford’s historical research connects the history of science, global history and environmental history into new assessments of the modern world from the 18th to 20th centuries.
She was previously the Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial History at the University of Cambridge and is a Fellow of the British Academy. In 2021 she was awarded the Dan David Prize for her long-standing scholarship in the history of medicine.
Amanda Focke, head of special collections at the Woodson Research Center, said international scholars have visited Rice’s campus for weeks at a time to use Huxley’s collection.
"We are very delighted to have Alison Bashford join us to talk about her research,” Focke said. “The archival materials she consulted here at Rice, the Julian Huxley papers, are among the most heavily used of our collections. The thousands of letters between scholars — including Jane Goodall, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Ernst Mayr, among others — in the Huxley papers offer an incredible glimpse into 20th-century thought on biology and evolution.”
The event will be held in Fondren’s Kyle Morrow Room at 6 p.m. A reception and book signing will follow the lecture.
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