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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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Philosophical Institute of Victoria (continued)

When it is realized that one of the two members of council concerned was the leader of an important religious organization in Melbourne, and the other a highly respected physician in the city, it is understandable that a near-riot resulted. The author, refusing to withdraw his paper and description, was immediately censured, and his expulsion from the Institute sought. However, the necessary two-thirds majority not being obtained, the two Council members concerned immediately resigned from all active participation in the Institute. The paper in some way having been printed prematurely, then presented a problem, and the council ordered all copies of the offending pages to be destroyed. All but one were apparently surrendered and destroyed, the sole survivor being now in the possession of the Public Library of Victoria. In the appropriate number of the Transactions will be found the following reference to this incident:

Pages 131, 132, 133 and 134 are expunged from this volume as containing matter injurious to the Institute.

Will the one surviving copy cause any difficulties to the taxonomists of the future? Time alone will tell.

The rapid expansion of the membership of the Institute at this stage was causing considerable concern to the council in that there were insufficient interests within the Institute to obtain the maximum benefits from this increased membership. Consequently, a proposal was put forward that, within the Institute, there should be a series of sections developed, in which members with similar interests could concentrate upon and specialize in their particular branch of science. In all, seven sections were nominated as follows:

Section A. Physical, astronomical, and mechanical science, including engineering.
Section B. Chemistry, mineralogy and metallurgy.
Section C. Natural history and geology.
Section D. Medical and microscopical science including physiology and pathology.
Section E. Geography and ethnology.
Section F. Social science and statistics.
Section G. Literature and fine arts, including architecture.

The adoption of this new principle at the annual general meeting held on 8 December 1858 ushered in a new era of scientific endeavour within the Institute, which was to set the pattern of activities for many years to come, and was largely responsible for much of the detailed scientific work that emanated from the Institute.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Philosophical Institute of Victoria

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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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