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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

The first meeting of the new-formed Philosophical Institute was held at the Museum of Natural History on 10 July 1855, with a representative of the Victorian Institute, Dr J. Maund, in the Chair. At this meeting the following papers were read:

On the physical character of the County of Heytesbury. By Robert Scott.
On the favourable geological and chemical nature of the principal rocks and soils of Victoria, in reference to the production of ordinary cereals and wine. By Clement Hodgkinson.

In addition, a meteorological table of the climatology of June was presented, and a large number of natural history specimens, some new to science, were exhibited.

It was obvious that the amalgamation of the two societies had not been received too well in certain quarters, as shown by an incident that occurred at this first meeting. The date and time of meeting for the new Institute being under discussion it was pointed out that the plan pursued by the late Victorian Institute was to hold meetings on the first Thursday in each month, which generally occurred when the moon was full. This immediately brought a retort from the secretary of the late society that such trivial subjects were never brought before a general meeting of the Philosophical Society, and he hoped would not be discussed at a meeting of the new-formed Philosophical Institute.

The Colony of Victoria at this time was faced with serious financial difficulties, with a result that scientific work came under very careful scrutiny, with expenditure being drastically curtailed. This had its effect on the work of the Institute also, with the botanical work of Dr Mueller suffering most. Economies were so severe that Mueller was forced, because no money was available, to give up his official post of paid Government Botanist, but was allowed to retain the title of the position without pay. He took advantage of this to join the Gregory exploring expedition to the north-west of Australia, an experience which was to prove most valuable to the Institute later when the Burke and Wills expedition was being organized. As there was a distinct possibility of Mueller's services being lost to science in Victoria, and particularly to the new-formed Institute, he was elected in July 1855 the first honorary member of the Philosophical Institute, an honour he greatly prized.

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

People in Bright Sparcs - Burke, Robert O'Hara; Hodgkinson, Clement; Maund, Dr John; Mueller, Dr Ferdinand; Wills, William 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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