HISTORY - It was common for people in the 19th century  who were interested in the natural world  around them to join groups to study it. The Botanical Society of Wilmington, Delaware, founded in 1844, was one such group. This later led to the founding of the Society of Natural History of Delaware in 1891 and its incorporation in 1919. Its members observed, identified and collected a variety of plants, birds, birds' eggs, insects, other animals  and minerals.  Collection today would be done with a digital camera for all except minerals.The collection of plants formed the basis for the Claude Philips Herbarium at Delaware State  University. The first president was William M. Canby, after whom Pachystima Canbyi is named.

PURPOSE - The Society encourages the study of man's natural environment. This includes biology ecology,geology, conservation, wildlife management, and to some extent, archaeology, astronomy and  meteorology. It seeks to do more than just put names on plants animals and minerals, making an effort to understand their distribution and interrelationships. It tries to apply such information to aid in the resolution of current conflicts and problems.

ACTIVITIES - Field trips and presentations are carried out by skilled leaders in all months of the year except in December, at the rate of about one a month. These include visits to nearby laboratories, explanations of current research in a field and views of natural history from both land and water. An effort is made to maintain a broad ecological viewpoint. It often partners with organizations, such as the Archaeological Society of Delaware, the Delaware Museum of Natural History, the Delaware Section of the American Chemical Society,  the Nature Conservancy, the Pennsylvania White Clay Creek Preserve and the Sierra Club to sponsor events.
All events are free and open to  the public.

CONSERVATION EFFORTS -The Society attempts to provide careful appraisals of environmental problems for our legislators and others on the local, state and federal levels through letters, testimony at hearings and participation in symposia.

PUBLICATIONS BY MEMBERS - Robert R. Tatnall, "Flora of Delaware and the Eastern Shore". 1946
Frank A. McDermott, "The Fireflies of Delaware", 2nd Ed, 1948
Frank Morton Jones, many papers on insects (Entomological News, 1963, vol. 74(2)
Maynard Raasch, "Delaware's Freshwater and Brackish-Water Fishes", 3rd Ed., 1997
Harold White, "Dragonflies of Delaware" (in press)
Elton N. Woodbury, "Butterflies of Delmarva", 1994
It should  be noted that amateurs can do worthwhile research on natural history. All the authors above, except Woodbury are amateurs.  Another member, Mike Maciarello, may be  an amateur, but he functions as the state mycologist of Delaware.

MEMBERSHIP - Membership is based solely on interest and not on any special knowledge in natural science.  A membership can include an individual or a family, with annual dues of $10 ($5 for a full time student). Suggestions for events and trip leaders are welcome from any participant.