Academy of Science of Texas

By: Ethel Ward-McLemore

Type: General Entry

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: June 17, 2020

The Academy of Science of Texas was founded on October 27, 1880, in Austin, Travis County, by Samuel Botsford Buckley, Franklin L. Yoakum, and Quintius Cincinnatus Smith. At the first meeting the members selected a name for the organization, elected Governor Oran M. Roberts as president, and voted other top government officials to membership, hoping for state sponsorship and cooperation. Evidently the politicians did not cooperate, and the founders shortly moved the academy to Palestine, where they reorganized it with Buckley as president and Yoakum as secretary. Membership grew from about thirty to 100. Scientific publications were planned, although there is no evidence that anything was published. However, Yoakum and another member, Thomas Volney Munson, regularly contributed articles on horticulture and the affairs of the academy to Texas Farm and Ranch, a biweekly newspaper published in Dallas during the late 1800s. Their primary interest seems to have been a museum of natural history, the nucleus of which was Yoakum's private collection of rocks, shells, and botanical specimens. Buckley died in 1883, and in 1886 Yoakum moved the museum to Tyler. In 1886 it was exhibited at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. In an article about the academy in Texas Farm and Ranch in 1886, the objectives of the organization were listed as the "mutual improvement of its members," the collection of specimens, the promotion of a scientific interest among the people, "fortifying our people against the false analysis of mineral waters," and facilitating the identification of specimens within Texas without having to make "humiliating" inquiries beyond the state. Yoakum died in 1891, and Smith died in 1911. The last known published mention of the academy was in 1889, when Texas Farm and Ranch published an article by Yoakum on "The Academy of Science of Tyler." There is no record of what happened to the museum, although part of it may have ended up at Southern Methodist University.

S. W. Geiser, "Fifty Years of Texas Biology," Proceedings and Transactions of the Texas Academy of Science 30 (1946). S. W. Geiser, "The First Texas Academy of Science," Field and Laboratory 13 (January 1945). Texas Farm and Ranch, December 1, 1886. Ethel Ward-McLemore, "The Academies of Science of Texas, 1880–1987," Texas Journal of Science 41 (August 1989, suppl.).

  • Austin
  • Central Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Ethel Ward-McLemore, “Academy of Science of Texas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994
June 17, 2020