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Application for Museum Curator, 3 February 1838

Curator letter 450dpi
Letter from William Smith (LDGSL/4/32)

"GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY - WANTED, a CURATOR, qualified to arrange and take charge of the museum: containing organic fossil remains, rock specimens and minerals. Salary £125 per annum. Apply by letter to the Secretary, Geological Society of London, Somerset-house." 'The Times', 31 January 1838.

Richard Owen
Richard Owen (GSL/POR/56/105)
The above short letter, sent to Richard Owen, later Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892) who was then one of the Secretaries of the Geological Society, is William Smith’s application for the vacant post of Curator in the Society’s Museum as advertised in 'The Times' in 1838. 

Smith, despite his obvious qualifications, was not appointed however this should not be viewed as another snub by the Geological Society. The Curator’s post had become vacant after the incumbent, William Lonsdale (1794-1871), had been relieved of his duties following a breakdown in his health. The job was tough not only because the Museum collection was so large and unwieldy but Lonsdale was also responsible for the Library, editing the journal, the Society’s accounts and housekeeping. The 43 year old ex-soldier Lonsdale came in on his holidays and weekends to cope with the workload and as a consequence his health suffered – eventually taking complete early retirement 4 years later. William Smith may have had a reputation for being in robust health but even in 1831, when Roderick Murchison suggested that he be appointed Geological Colourer to the Ordnance Survey, the proposal was turned down because at the age of 60 he was considered too old. In February 1838, Smith was one month shy of his 69th birthday. 

The 40 year old Searles Valentine Wood (1798-1880) was appointed in April 1838.

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