By Jane Maienschein

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Extra resources for 100 years exploring life, 1888-1988: the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole

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Giving a public lecture to generate support, he began to wonder out loud about the possibilities. As he appealed to the Massachusetts legislature for funds for the MCZ and for the summer school, it began to look as though a school might be possible, on Nantucket Island. The Anderson School at Penikese Then some of the ever-popular Louis Agassiz's concerns found their way into the New York newspapers, including the Times and Tribune. In response, a wealthy New York businessman, John Anderson, wrote to Agassiz offering land on the island of Penikese, off the coast of Woods Hole, plus his own house there for Agassiz's personal use: a gift valued at $100,000.

Perhaps the sea even held very simple and primitive organisms that would help to illuminate the perfection of nature's design, thought researchers in the middle of the nineteenth century, before Darwin. In the late nineteenth century, after Darwin had put forth his evolution theory and after German biologist Ernst Haeckel had convinced so many people that the right way to pursue biological science was to trace the evolutionary relationships of organisms, biologists moved to the seashore. Haeckel believed that all of life arose from very simple primitive organisms resembling single cells.

Rather, it is what any good biography should be: a loving but frank portrayal of a special friend. Like all celebrities, the MBL has had its ups and downs. The ups have far outnumbered the downs, but the downs have been there nonetheless: the perennial financial problems, disagreements within the corporation about its own mission, and even controversial proposals to have the MBL managed by other institutions. But the MBL has managed to come through these bad times more or less unscathed, retaining, as Jane Maienschein shows so well, its essential magic.

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