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Records of the Wernerian Natural History Society

Edinburgh University Library Department of Special Collections

Wernerian Society Minutes

Series Summary

Reference Code

GB 0237 Wernerian Natural History Society Dc.2.55-Dc.2.56

Date(s)

12 January 1808-16 April 1858

Extent and medium of the unit of description

2

volumes

Name of creator

Wernerian Natural History Society | 1808-1858 | scientific society | Edinburgh (Scotland)

Biographical History

Biographical History

The Minutes of the Wenerian Natural History Society, founded by Robert Jameson in 1808, show that it met on a monthly basis. A break usually took place between May and October, although occassional summer meetings were organised. Each year of meetings was termed a session, and a total of 44 of these took place before the society was wound up 1858. Meetings became less frequent in the final years of the society, with a complete break from November 1850-March 1856. During this period, Jameson, who was also the president, had died. It did not seem possible for the Society to continue without its mentor, and the final 2 years were devoted to disbanding the membership and settling affairs.

The Society's constitution was laid down in the second meeting on 20 January 1808. This included regulations for members, office-bearers, meetings, visitors, subscriptions and transactions. In addition a Charter for the Society was gained from the Town Council of Edinburgh.

Initially the Society had 4 categories of membership: honorary, resident, non-resident and foreign. The category "corresponding" was added in 1824. New membership applications were brisk in the first 15 years of the society, so that by 1823 there were approximately 500 members, although only around 130 of these were resident. After this new memberships slowed. Nominations for these were accepted at the monthly meeting and ratified at the following meeting. Other business affairs, such as the nomination of office-bearers, were also conducted at the monthly meetings.

However, the main focus of meetings were the papers concerning all aspects of natural history which were read by members and guests of the society. Until 1823 these tended to concentrate on the earth sciences: geology, minerology and meteorology. Later the emphasis shifted to the pure sciences and life sciences: chemistry, physics, botany, zoology and entomology. Most of the scientists who gave papers consented to having their work published in the Memoirs of the Wernerian Natural History Society or, after 1839 in the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal. This consent was minuted.

Scope and Content

Scope and Content

Wernerian Society Minutes consists of:

  • details of the constitution of the society
  • minutes concerning the scientific papers read at society meetings
  • minutes concerning membership applications and acceptances by the society
  • minutes concerning business matters of the society

Index

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