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Science and the making of VictoriaRoyal Society of Victoria
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Royal Society of Victoria 1854-1959


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Royal Society of Victoria (continued)

It was a very happy coincidence that the date of the centenary of the Royal Society of Victoria (November 1959) coincided exactly with the centenary of the publication of Charles Darwin's immortal work The Origin of Species. It was therefore very fitting that any celebrations that were to be planned should combine both centenaries.

In addition to a centenary soiree that was held at the Royal Society's hall on 12 November 1959, at which historical documents and specimens were exhibited and a short historical paper read, a centenary symposium was held from 7-11 December 1959, the overall subject being 'The Evolution of Living Organisms'. For this symposium, the guest lecturer was Professor Ernst Mayr, Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University, U.S.A. On 7 December, at the University of Melbourne, Professor Mayr delivered the first 'O. W. Tiegs Oration', established in memory of a former councillor and chairman of the library committee, on the subject 'Accident or Design? The Great Paradox of Evolution'. In the discussions which were held during the following week, contributions were made by eminent evolutionists from all countries of the world, the papers being later issued in the form of a special publication by the Melbourne University Press.

This symposium was a most fitting conclusion to the first hundred years of service to science of a society founded by men of vision in a young colony seething with the excitement of a major discovery of gold.

May the second hundred years of the Royal Society of Victoria be just as rich, not only in scientific achievement but also in service generally, to a rapidly growing nation with the potential for major contributions of world importance.

Let Baron von Mueller's aim, so aptly stated in 1859, at the first meeting of the first hundred years of the Royal Society—'Concord and Progress'—be the motto for the Society from 1959 to 2059.


Grateful acknowledgement is made to the council of the Royal Society of Victoria for permission to peruse the minute books of the council and Society since their inception, and to the trustees and staff of the Public Library of Victoria for assistance with archive material and illustrations.

Royal Society Hall, about 1900

Plate II Royal Society Hall, about 1900. Note dead trees which were the subject of controversy with Melbourne City Council.

Royal Society Hall, 1959

Plate III Royal Society Hall, 1959. (Courtesy: Department of External Affairs, Antarctic Division)

People in Bright Sparcs - Darwin, Charles; 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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