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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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Introduction (continued)

The National Museum of Natural History had commenced in a small way in the Crown Lands Offices under the guidance of the Surveyor-General, while the Public Library was at a very similar stage to the University—the foundation stone being laid, but the building not completed.

It was into this type of environment that, in 1854, two separate scientific bodies, with very similar aims and ideals, came into being within a month or so of one another. These were the Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science and the Philosophical Society of Victoria. It was their amalgamation in the following year, to form the Philosophical Institute of Victoria, that paved the way for the granting, in 1859, of the title 'Royal Society of Victoria' to this latter organization.

It may seem strange to us in 1959, viewing the position that existed in 1854, that two such societies should spring into being at about the same time. But after all, was it strange? The late Sir Russell Grimwade, in 1954, wrote a short statement that admirably sums up the position.

The making of the bridge-head of British people on the coast of Australia towards the end of the eighteenth century is now a well-known matter of history. The difficulties of the first settlement in an empty and comparatively harsh land were tremendous and of such magnitude that it was doubtful at times whether the planned occupation could be carried on. Carefree Australians today are apt to forget that at the time of first entry their land produced no orthodox food and its soils had never been cultivated and that the abundance of foods produced within its boundaries today all have their origin overseas. The germ of all edible plants and animals was imported from foreign lands, mostly those of the northern hemisphere. The provision of food, storage of water, and the development of means of communication constituted the first duties of the pioneers. When these very first needs were fulfilled, even in a rudimentary manner, the obligation to posterity became revealed. We are fortunate that from our very beginnings there have been far-seeing and intellectual giants amongst us who, almost fanatically, have sought to gain a full knowledge of their surroundings.

It was those 'far-seeing and intellectual giants' who had the initiative and the ability to found the two somewhat kindred scientific societies in the same year.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Philosophical Institute of Victoria; Royal Society of Victoria; University of Melbourne; Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science

People in Bright Sparcs - Grimwade, Sir Russell

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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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