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History of the Polish Biometric Society – Part I

[1958-1960][1961-1964][1965-1969][1970-1987]



History of the Polish Biometric Society 1961-1964

In early 1961 the Biometric Section of the Polish Copernicus Society of Naturalists became the Polish Biometric Society. Its charter was approved by the state authorities on May 26, 1961. The purpose of the Society was the practice and dissemination of biometric methods, that is, mathematical methods in the biological and biotechnological sciences. The Society decided to pursue this aim through cooperation among mathematicians and natural scientists of different specialties, by organizing meetings, courses, seminars, conventions and conferences, by the publication of printed works and materials, and by the promotion of biometric methods through publications, lectures and consultations. The charter stated that the Society would be based in Wrocław. Even as early as 1961 the Society was showing signs of vigorous activity: it organized a colloquium on homogeneity, a course in statistics for physicians, and two meetings at which papers were presented.

On February 16-17, 1962 a second biometric conference was held in Wrocław, at the Mathematics Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences (ul. Kopernika 18), attended by about 70 members. The proceedings took place in two sections, in which 16 papers and reports were delivered. The first General Meeting of members of the PBS was held on February 17, 1962. The General Meeting approved the Society’s charter and some organizational changes, and elected a Management Board consisting of Julian Perkal (chairman), Adam Wanke (vice-chairman), Hubert Szczotka (secretary), Anna Waliszko (treasurer), Bożena Płonka (deputy secretary) and Zygmunt Welon (deputy treasurer), as well as an Audit Committee composed of Józef Łukaszewicz (chairman), Tadeusz Nowakowski and Noemi Wigdorowicz-Makowerowa. The General Meeting also elected the members of the Scientific Council, who were Jan Czekanowsk (Poznań; chairman), Tadeusz Bogdanik (Białystok), Walery Bogusławski (Gdańsk), Mieczysław Choynowski (Warsaw), Maciej Czarnowski (Kraków), Bronisław Knaster (Wrocław), Halina Milicerowa (Warsaw), Wiktor Oktaba (Lublin), Julian Perkal (Wrocław), Kazimierz Petrusewicz (Warsaw), Wanda Stęślicka-Mydlarska (Toruń) and Adam Wanke (Wrocław).

A few words should be said about Jan Czekanowski. He was a world-renowned scientist who introduced modern statistical methods into anthropological research. He was a professor at the University of Lwów (Lviv) and later in Poznań. He was a graduate in anthropology, medicine and mathematics. He originated the well-known diagram method for hierarchical clustering, and wrote a textbook titled "Outline of statistical methods in applications to anthropology" published by the Warsaw Scientific Society in 1913. This was the first statistical textbook written in Polish to describe modern methods of analysis of empirical data and proper interpretation of the results. Printed just two years after the appearance of the world's first textbook of modern mathematical statistics, George Yule's An Introduction to the Theory of Statistics, it played an important role in the dissemination of biometrics among Polish scholars during the interwar period.

In the 1962-1963 academic year the PBS ran seminars in biometrics at three centers - Lublin, Warsaw and Wrocław. Topics discussed related to analysis of variance, taxonomic methods, hypothesis testing, mathematical genetics and numerical methods.

Noting the declining attendance at these meetings, the PBS Management Board decided to establish a minimum level of knowledge among its members by publishing relevant instructional materials. The first volume of these appeared as Listy Biometryczne ("Biometrical Letters") No. 1-2, dated 1964. The journal’s editor was Julian Perkal, and its secretary was Hubert Szczotka. An editorial stated that: "Biometrical Letters is intended to reach, primarily, members of the Polish Biometric Society. The purpose of this journal is to spread and deepen knowledge of biometrics, that is, knowledge of and ability to apply mathematical methods in the biological sciences. We will therefore publish methodological articles and research papers in various fields of biometrics. The first of these are intended to introduce the existing methods of biometrics to the reader. The next are to describe new biometric methods and interesting creative uses of mathematical and statistical methods in the biological sciences. As an organ of the Polish Biometric Society, Biometrical Letters will also inform the reader about the Society’s life and work, and in particular its conventions, conferences and seminars. If it proves possible, we will publish reports on such events." The article ends with the words: "We hope that our journal will contribute to the spread of biometric knowledge among Polish scholars, and to the development of its methods and applications." The first volume of Biometrical Letters contains the first part of an article by Julian Perkal titled "The probabilistic basis of biometrics". The remainder of this article appears in No. 3-5, also dated 1964.

On February 12-13, 1964, again at the Mathematics Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Wrocław (ul. Kopernika 18), another biometrical conference was held. The second day of the conference saw the second General Meeting of members of the Society, at which a new Management Board was elected, consisting of Adam Wanke (chairman), Halina Milicerowa (vice-chair), Stefan Zubrzycki (secretary), Anna Waliszko (treasurer), Jan Sekuła and Zygmunt Welon, as well as an Audit Committee composed of Józef Łukaszewicz (chairman), Tadeusz Nowakowski and Noemi Wigdorowicz-Makowerowa. The General Meeting also elected a new Scientific Council: Jan Czekanowski (Poznań; chairman), Tadeusz Bogdanik (Białystok), Mieczyslaw Choynowski (Warsaw), Maciej Czarnowski (Kraków), Bronisław Knaster (Wrocław), Józef Łukaszewicz (Wrocław), Halina Milicerowa (Warsaw), Wiktor Oktaba (Lublin), Julian Perkal (Wrocław), Hugo Steinhaus (Wrocław), Wanda Stęślicka-Mydlarska (Toruń) and Adam Wanke (Wrocław). It was decided that the Society would hold scientific conference in late January or early February of each year.

A few words about the new Chairman of the PBS Management Board. Professor Adam Wanke was born on 24 December 1906 in Lwów (Lviv). He graduated in anthropology from the University of Lwów, as a student of Jan Czekanowski. He became a professor at the University of Wrocław, and head of the Anthropology Department of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He created a somatic typology of men, distinguishing four types of body, which were compared to the shapes of the letters A, V, H and I. Students of the anthropologist called these types "the four letters of Adam Wanke". He also originated two new statistical methods of classification in anthropology.



Professor Mirosław Krzyśko
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