Working at Water's Edge: Life Sciences at American Marine Stations, 1880-1930

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This dissertation examines the rise of America marine stations between 1880 and 1930, and examines the malleable spaces and technologies that facilitated multifaceted approaches in these liquid laboratories. Muka begins by establishing baseline spatial and technological requirements for scientific work at the shoreline during this period. In subsequent chapters, she analyzes four episodes of highly disciplinary work performed in these spaces: taxonomic illustration, embryology and morphology, neurophysiology, and animal behavior. While historians have pointed to a balkanization of scientific disciplines during this period, including reliance on specialized technologies and spaces, this dissertation seeks to highlight the continuities of space and technique in marine science and sheds light on the impact of these commonalities on the development of a cohesive marine science over the remainder of the twentieth century.


  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton 1823-1887
  • National Collections
  • United States National Museum
  • United States Fish Commission
  • Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, Mass.)


Smithsonian History Bibliography

Citation information

Series Vol. number

Contained within

Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania (Dissertation)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Zoology
  • Exchange of Specimens
  • Marine sciences
  • Science
  • Marine resources conservation
  • Museums
  • Scientific illustration
  • Marine Biology
  • Embryology
  • Animals
  • Aquariums
  • Animal behavior
  • Morphology (Animals)
  • Specimens
  • Exhibitions
  • Collection and preservation
  • Marine biologists
  • Zoological specimens--Collection and preservation
  • Museum exhibits
  • Marine biology


United States


  • Exhibitions
  • Classification

Physical description

Number of pages: 271, Page numbers: 1-241

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