Monday, September 24, 2007
The Textbook Used by Scopes
During Banned Books Week (beginning Sept. 24) we have on display at the circulation desk a copy of the 1914 textbook used by Tennessee high school teacher John Thomas Scopes, which led to his arrest and trial for teaching evolution. [more on the Scopes trial]
Authored by George William Hunter, A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems, the book devotes just five pages to evolution, leading to this statement: "We have now learned that animal forms may be arranged so as to begin with very simple one-celled forms and culminate with a group which contains man himself." [p. 194] On the next page, Hunter notes "If we follow the early history of man upon the earth, we find that at first he must have been little better than one of the lower animals." Interestingly, although Hunter references Charles Darwin as "the great English scientist" he does not specifically cite Origin of Species or any other work by Darwin in this particular section of the book. A separate section on "Some great names in biology" gives Origin its due, along with tributes to Edward Jenner, Louis Pasteur, Gregor Mendel, and others.
The display copy of Hunter's text belongs to Ohio State University, on loan through OhioLINK. Stop by for a glimpse into legal, social and biological history.