(This post was first published on the AmNat150.org website)

The American Naturalist was first published in March 1867. Over the last 150 years, AmNat has had 16 different covers. Below is a gallery of those covers, with the dates they were used. Click on any image to bring up the full-sized gallery.

One of the fascinating features to trace through the covers is how the motto of the journal changed through the years.

Devoted to the Natural Sciences in Their Widest Sense – This was the original motto, and was first printed on the cover of in 1878. This motto lasted until 1908.

Devoted to the Advancement of the Biological Sciences with Special Reference to the Factors of Evolution – This new motto was adopted in 1909. This occurred several years after the American Society of Naturalists deferred to the American Association for the Advancement of Science as the leading umbrella scientific organization in the United States (see Minot et al. 1902. The relation of the American Society of Naturalists to other scientific societies. Science 15:241-255). This motto lasted until 1947.

Devoted to the Advancement of the Biological Sciences – The end-phrase about the factors of evolution was dropped in 1948. This occurred shortly after the founding of the Society for the Study of Evolution and the journal Evolution. This motto lasted until 1950.

Devoted to the Advancement and Correlation of the Biological Sciences – The addition of correlation was added to the motto in 1951. This motto lasted until 1976.

Devoted to the Conceptual Unification of the Biological Sciences – The current motto was adopted in 1977.


The images in the gallery were taken from the collection of the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. Many thanks to Connie Rinaldo, Librarian of the Ernst Mayr Library and Jonathan LososDepartment of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology for helping us obtain these images.