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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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Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science

Early in 1854, William Sidney Gibbons, an analytical chemist of 5 Collins Street East, Melbourne, and a lecturer at the Mechanics Institution, conceived the idea of the foundation of a scientific society in the newly formed but rapidly developing colony where men of science, of all branches, could meet and discuss mutual problems.

After much personal thought and, at times, animated discussion with fellow-citizens of similar interests, the project so developed and became of such importance to him, that he proceeded with the organization of a public meeting to place his proposals before those interested.

This meeting was convened at the Mechanics Institution for Thursday, 15 June 1854, at 4 p.m., when His Worship the Mayor of Melbourne took the Chair. Here, Gibbons spoke at length on the aims and objects of his proposed new society, and so convinced those present that it was unanimously decided to form 'The Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science'. The main purposes were stated at that meeting to be—

  1. a means of communication between persons engaged in the pursuit of science;
  2. the cultivating of a refined taste among the people of Victoria;
  3. provide a source to which the community generally may look for information on scientific subjects;
  4. provide a centre for the collection of observations and specimens from all sources;
  5. provide an agency for the development of the resources of the colony.

It was also proposed that membership consist of ordinary members and corresponding members, and should be open to anyone whose interests were similar to those of the Institute, but that they would be required to be admitted by ballot. The subscription rates, in terms of modern figures, were extraordinarily high, ordinary members being required to pay an annual subscription of £4 with an entrance fee of £2, and corresponding members £2 per annum with an entry fee of £2. It was also proposed that, if necessary, the Institute divide itself into sections for the consideration of special problems.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science

People in Bright Sparcs - Gibbons, William Sydney

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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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