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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 Society of Victoria

Within a month of the calling of the public meeting to form the Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science, a somewhat similar organization, the Philosophical Society of Victoria had its inception.

It is clear that, although the first general meeting of the Philosophical Society took place on 12 August 1854, presumably in what was then the Museum of Natural History, considerable work had been put into the preliminaries of founding such a society, as at that meeting, an inaugural address was presented by the first President, Captain Andrew Clarke, R.E., Surveyor-General of the Colony.

The actual initiation of the foundation of the Philosophical Society was undoubtedly to the credit of Captain Clarke. In response to a proposition submitted to the Legislative Council on 23 September 1853, that the Government should set aside a sum of money to establish a museum of natural history, the Colonial Secretary, in reply, promised the necessary assistance 'if the honourable member and others who were interested in the subject, would form themselves into a committee, or initiate some society or institution which would co-operate with the Government in carrying out the objects in view'. Acting on this, Captain Clarke called the first meeting of interested persons on 17 June 1854, at his offices, where the nucleus of a museum was already extant. At that meeting, eight men were present, and they voted Dr R. Eades, a prominent Melbourne physician, to the Chair.

Eight similar meetings took place after that date. The original intention was to found a society known as 'The Victorian Philosophical and Literary Society', but at the first meeting, largely through the agency of Dr Ferdinand Mueller, Government Botanist, the title 'The Philosophical Society of Victoria' was adopted.

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

People in Bright Sparcs - Clarke, Captain Andrew; Eades, Dr Richard; Mueller, Dr Ferdinand

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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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