It all began just around the corner from our current offices, when there were no skyscrapers towering above or subways shuttling below. Our founder, Samuel Latham Mitchill, who began his life as a farmer's son and went on to receive a medical degree in Scotland, returned to New York with ever-expanding interests in fields as wide-ranging as geology, botany, and mineralogy. And he wanted to gather with others who shared his interests and enthusiasm for science. Finally, in his mid-50s, he decided to take things into his own hands and called the first meeting of the Lyceum of Natural History (the Academy's early name) on January 29, 1817.
From there, we've traced 200 years of scientific progress, from early efforts to survey the flora, fauna, and geology of New York and Puerto Rico, to the gathering of one of the most extensive natural history collections and scientific libraries in the world at the time, to publishing important research for nearly two centuries, to helping to found crucial research institutions in New York City and beyond, to hosting the first major scientific conferences on everything from antibiotics, to AIDS, to SARS, to educating future generations of scientists. And at every step of the way, our Members played key roles in each of those efforts.
Today, we pride ourselves on being the world's smartest network. But the point of saying that isn't just to highlight how amazing the people are who make up our community, it's to inspire everyone to harness the power of that network; to harness the power of science to help shape the future of society and address the major challenges we face. In 200 years, we've learned a lot about how to do that well, and we're excited to bring all that experience and knowledge to bear in tackling the challenges we all face in the next century.
Thank you for being part of the Academy's past, present, and future! We're excited to celebrate with you.
Members, we invite you to join us for a special birthday celebration on January 29, 2017. You also can learn more about the Academy's past, present, and future on our special Bicentennial website.