The Story of the CHSG Logo

Through two decades, the Columbia History of Science Group has developed and refined a logo that reflects the broad interests and depth of scholarship of its members. That logo finally appeared on letterhead and announcements for this past year's meeting, but it is by no means a new feature for the Group. As the traditions of this prestigious Group recount the input and contributions of its diverse membership, and as these traditions must be recorded in order that they might be remembered properly, the following account will clarify the evolution of the CHSG logo.

Not long after Milo packed up his gourmet gear and the Berggren boys went home nursing their aching bellies, other CHSG stalwarts began to consider the future of their newly formed society. Agreement on several plans fell into place swiftly and smoothly, but organizers with an eye on the horizon of what this group might become could only go so far as to agree to disagree on the topic of what would serve as a proper logo. Most realized that the logo proffers to the world at large the single most important identifier of an organization’s cachet: behold the Nike swoosh, Disney’s Mickey Mouse, the HSS disappearing S, and the Canadian maple leaf. Others feared that the Group might become commercialized by the association of a logo with CHSG’s esteemed name. The marketing industry might descend upon us, seeking to gain from the sale of CHSG hats, t-shirts, leather jackets, canvas tote bags, and the like.

As a result, plans proceeded slowly. Rodney of Ravenna toiled for years in a basement room adjoining his cramped subterranean library. His artistic flair and penchant for color and texture combined to turn out prototype after prototype, each rejected by the CHSG Logo Development Governing Board. (Two of those prototypes caught on later -- one for a automobile company with planetary aspirations, the other for a software company that liked the shadowy appearance of a sash and pane window sketch.) Alas, Rodney gave up and retired on revenue from his cast-off designs.

The next attempts were undertaken by Verne of Vashon and his cousin Vaughn. Together, they endeavored to capture the flavor of CHSG, but working in chocolate and strawberry sauce proved elusive. A kind of coat of arms, with an Aztec Potato hovering above a shimmering golden wienie resulted from one frenzied effort, but it was lost when Verne’s boat capsized at low tide. Watercolor painting became less and less productive when the water was replaced by Red Hook ales. Verne dallied briefly with the idea of using the “Olympia” mountains as a silhouetted backdrop for a boldly lettered CHSG logo, but his plans were scuttled when Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Company bought Olympia Brewing and started to crack down on licensing of the mountain range now known as the Millers, on the Miller Peninsula, south of the San Juan Islands.

Finally, clearer heads prevailed, and the CHSG Logo Development Governing Board accepted an anonymous design from a long-time member, who managed to incorporate the Columbia River (nothing more than a squiggley blue line) and the letters CHSG into a tasteful -- if less flavorful, colorful, or textured -- signifier of the Group. The source of the squggley line, it should be noted, was a set of maps in Joseph E. Taylor III’s book Making Salmon, research from which was first presented at Friday Harbor as part of a CHSG annual meeting. It might also be noted that the rebellious young Talyor was a first-born, thus further corroborating Frank Sulloway’s birth-order thesis.

It is expected that at some future date, the logo will be available on running shoes, umbrellas, postcards, and the collector edition Rodney of Ravenna action figure, for sale in the Anacortes Washington State Ferry Gift Shop.

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