Carl Eldh’s Linnaeus statue stands
in the Linnaeus Garden in Uppsala.
Founded on the anniversary
of Linnaeus’ birth
The Swedish Linnaeus Society was founded at Linnaeus’ estate
Hammarby on 23 May 1917, on the 210th anniversary of the birth
of Linnaeus. It was upon the initiative of court dentist and book
collector Elof Förberg. Those invited to the first meeting
included several of the leading Linnaeus researches of the day,
such as Ernst Almquist, botanist, Carl Forsstrand, author, Robert
Fries, botanist, Olof Hult, doctor and medical historian, Markus
Hulth, head librarian, Rutger Sernander, plant biologist and Tycho
Tullberg, zoologist and descendant of Linnaeus.
The Society’s mission
Elof Förberg saw the need for a Linnaeus society for several
reasons: one was the lack of a forum for Linnaean studies, a forum
where new scientific findings could be published regarding the
editions and variations of Linnaeus’ writings. The Society
would also safeguard Linnaeus’ letters from destruction
or ending up abroad. Other important tasks were to produce an
inventory of all known Linnaeus monuments and mementos, and a
complete Linnaean library. The Society would also be able to support
continued Linnaean research by publishing works by and about Linnaeus
and his followers.
The first meeting
The first members’ meeting was held in November 1917 at
Grand Hotel in Stockholm. The Crown Prince and consort, and as well as the painter and member of the royal family Prince
Eugen, added to the status of the meeting, which was attended
by no less than 280 members. At the meeting the idea was put forward
for the first time to turn Linnaeus’ home in Uppsala into
a museum – the home of the director of the botanical garden
(now the Linnaeus Museum), and to restore Linnaeus’ botanical
garden (now the Linnaeus Garden) to its original appearance.
In the early years, the Society worked intensively to achieve
the set goals. The main objectives were meetings with lectures,
a new yearbook and to begin the publication of Linnaeus’ works,
as well as to restore and tend the places where had lived and
Elof Förberg was the driving force. He was the Society’s
first treasurer and main organiser. Of particular importance was
his successful and skilfully planned recruitment of members, not
least those from wealthy and influential circles. He introduced
multi-tier membership (supporting members paid 1,200 SEK), enlisted
the founders of a Linnaeus Museum and started subscriptions. In
this way the economic wherewithal was assembled to buy objects
from the Linnaeus family and private collectors. The Society could
therefore at an early date acquire furniture, household items
(porcelain, glass, silver), textiles and art that had belonged
to the Linnaeus family.
The history of the Society
The history of
the Linnaeus Garden
The history of
the Linnaeus Museum
Sources for the history
of the Society
Anonymous: Jubilee celebration of the Swedish Linnaeus Society
in Uppsala, 27 May 1923. SLÅ, 7 (1924), 1-10.
Anonymous: Inauguration of the Linnaeus Museum and twentieth anniversary
of the Swedish Linnaeus Society. SLÅ, 21 (1938), 146-156.
Fries, Robert E.: To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the
foundation of the Swedish Linnaeus Society. SLÅ, 11 (1928),
Müller, Erik: Elof Förberg: his importance to Swedish
dentistry and to the Linnaeus Society. Words of remembrance. SLÅ,
7 (1924), 11-14.
von Sydow, Carl-Otto: The foundation and early activities of the
Swedish Linnaeus Society. A retrospective upon the 50th anniversary.
SLÅ, 50 (1967), 52-91.