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Science and the making of VictoriaRoyal Society of Victoria
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Royal Society of Victoria 1854-1959


Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science

Philosophical Society of Victoria

Philosophical Institute of Victoria

Royal Society of Victoria



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Royal Society of Victoria (continued)

I wonder if our reactions to modern inventions in the fields of nuclear physics, rocket space ships, radio and television, to mention but a few, have been any different.

The decision in 1858 to form a number of sections within the Society did not produce the results that were anticipated. Certainly a number of meetings were held in the first year or so, but after that the sections functioned either not at all or, at the best, only spasmodically. However, through the keenness of the President, Mr R. L. J. Ellery, who was also Government Astronomer, Section A (Physical, astronomical and mechanical science) was re-constituted in 1879, with a membership of 40. In the first six months, five meetings of the new section were held, all well attended, at which papers and demonstrations were given.

Conversazione of the Royal Society

Plate I Conversazione of the Royal Society, 8 August 1878, with Professor Ellery delivering the presidential address. (Illustrated Australian News)
Source: La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria

Alterations and renovations to the buildings that had been approved some time earlier were completed in 1880. Apart from the additional space provided within the building, the renovation 'in a plain but substantial style' of the outside of the building, which for a long time had presented a somewhat shabby and dilapidated appearance, produced a building of some dignity that was the subject of much admiration. In the same year, the sectional activity of the Society further advanced with the formation of another section, combining sections B, C and D in the original classification, which immediately commenced active work. However, its activity was short-lived as, after about 12 months of activity, meetings lapsed.

The year 1880 was also important in that the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria was formed on the lines of the old and well-known English one of the same name. As the objects of this new club were very similar to those of the Royal Society, although a greater emphasis was placed on field excursions for club members, it was only to be expected that a close relationship would exist between the two organizations over the years.

People in Bright Sparcs - Ellery, Robert Lewis John

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Pescott, R. T. M. 1961 'The Royal Society of Victoria from then, 1854 to now, 1959', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, vol. 73, no. 7, pp. 1-40.

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