SOCIETIES, LEARNED. Under Academies will be found a general account of the principal bodies of which that word forms part of the titles, usually denoting some kind of state support or patronage But that account excludes a number of important scientific, archaeological, and literary societies, chiefly founded and carried on by private collective effort. Most of the institutions hereinafter mentioned are still flourishing. Fine art societies are not included.
In their modern form learned and literary societies have their origin in the Italian academies of the Renaissance: private scientific societies arose chiefly during the 19th century, being due to the necessity of increased organization of knowledge and the desire among scholars for a common ground to meet, compare results, and collect facts for future generalization. These bodies rapidly tend to increase in number and to become more and more specialized, and it has been necessary to systematize and co-ordinate their scattered work. Many efforts have been made from time to time to tabulate and analyse the literature published in their proceedings, as, for instance, in the Repertorium of Reuss (1801-1821) and the Catalogue of Scientific Papers of the Royal Society (1867-1902) for physics and natural science, with its subject indexes and the indexes of Walther (1845) and Koner (1852-1856) for German historical societies. A more recent example may be found in G. L. Gomme's Index of Archaeological Papers (1907). A further development of the work done by societies was made in 1822, when, chiefly owing to Humboldt, the Gesellschaft deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte first met at Leipzig. This inauguration of the system of national congresses was followed in 1831 by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, which has served as the model for similar societies in France, America, Italy, Australia and South Africa. The merit of introducing the idea of migratory congresses into France is due to the distinguished archaeologist, M. Arcisse de Caumont (1802-1873), who established the Association Normande, which from 1845 held a reunion in one or other of the towns of the province for the discussion of matters relating to history, archaeology, science and agriculture, with local exhibitions. From the same initiation came the Congrès Archeologique de France (1834), which was organized by the Société Française pour la Conservation des Monuments Historiques, the Congrès Scientifique, which held its first meeting at Caen in 1833 (directed by the Institut des Provinces), and the Congrès des Sociétés Savantes des Départements, which for many years after 1850 held its annual sittings at Paris. The idea received the sanction of the French government in 1861, when a Congrès des Sociétés Savantes was first convoked at the Sorbonne by the minister of public instruction, who had in 1846 produced an Annuaire des Sociétés Savantes. In Italy Charles Bonaparte, prince of Canino, started an association with like objects, which held its first meeting at Pisa in 1839. Russia has had an itinerant gathering of naturalists since 1867. International meetings are a natural growth from national congresses. Two remarkable examples of these cosmopolitan societies are the Congrès International d'Archéologie et d'Anthropologie Préhistoriques, founded at Spezzia in 1865, and the Congrès International des Orientalistes (1873).
societies comes the Royal Society (q.v.) of London, which dates from 1660. In 1683 William Molyneux, the author of The Case of Ireland Stated, exerted himself to form a society in Dublin after the pattern of that of London. In consequence of his efforts and labours the Dublin Philosophical Society was established in January 1684, with Sir William Petty as first president. The members subsequently acquired a botanic garden, a laboratory and a museum, and placed themselves in communication with the Royal Society of London. Their meetings after 1686 were few and irregular, and came to an end at the commencement of hostilities between James II. and William III. The society was reorganized in 1693 at Trinity College, Dublin, where meetings took place during several years. On 25th June 1731, chiefly owing to the exertions of Dr S. M. Madden, the Dublin Society for Improving Husbandry, Manufactures, and other Useful Arts came into existence. In January 1737 they commenced to publish the Dublin Society's Weekly Observations, and in 1746 the society was placed on the civil establishment, with an allowance of £500 a year from the government. A charter of incorporation was granted in 1750, and seven years later the Royal Dublin Society for the first time owned a house of its own, and in the following year began the drawing school, which subsequently did so much for Irish art. Between 1761 and 1767 government grants to the amount of £42,000 for promoting national agriculture and manufactures were distributed by the society, which claims to be the oldest scientific body in the United Kingdom after the Royal Society of London. It has published Transactions (1799, &c.); and its Proceedings (1764-1775; 1848, &c.) and Journal (1856-1876, &c.) are still issued. The Dublin Univ. Phil. Soc. issuesProceedings. For the Royal Irish Academy, see Academies.
and incorporated in 1788; it is exclusively devoted to natural history and the physical sciences. With it have been merged many other societies, such as the Chirurgo-Medical in 1796, the American Physical in 1796, the Hibernian Medical in 1799, the Chemical in 1803, the Natural History in 1812 (which brought in Brougham and Mackintosh) and the Didactic in 1813. It issues Transactions and Proceedings (1858, &c.). From the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh (1731) was developed the Royal Society of Edinburgh, whose charter is dated 29th March 1783. It was to comprise a physical and a literary class; among the members of the latter were Robertson, Hume, Burke and Reid, and among those of the former Hutton, Black, Playfair, Dugald Stewart and Watt. The literary division has been much less productive than the other. A second charter was obtained in 1811. The society has published Transactions (4to, 1788, &c.) and Proceedings (8vo, 1832, &c.). The Royal Scottish Soc. of Arts (1821) publishes Transactions.
The Linnean Society for the promotion of zoology and botany was founded in 1788 by Dr (afterwards Sir) J. E. Smith, in order to supplement the work of the Royal Society, and obtained a royal charter in 1802. The herbarium and collections of Linnaeus, with the founder's additions, were purchased after his death. It removed from Sir Joseph Banks's old house in Soho Square to Burlington House (London) in 1857, and assumed the apartments it now occupies in 1873. It has published Proceedings (1849, &c.). The Journal (8vo, 1856, &c.) and the Transactions (4to, 1791, &c.) are divided into zoological and botanical sections. The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Commerce, and Manufactures took its origin in 1753 from an academy established in the Strand by the landscape painter William Shipley. Attention was paid to the application of science to practical purposes, a subject passed over by the Royal Society. Exhibitions of pictures by native artists were held, and the first exhibitions of the Royal Academy took place in its rooms. A fresh start in a new career was made by the Society of Arts (since 1909 known as the Royal Society of Arts) in 1847, when it obtained a charter and the presidency of the Prince Consort. The International Exhibition of 1851 sprang from the smaller exhibitions previously held in its rooms. The East Indian section dates from 1869, the foreign and colonial and the chemical sections from 1874. Its organs have been Transactions (1783-1849) and the Journal (1853, &c.). Sir Joseph Banks, Count Rumford and other fellows of the Royal Society started the Royal Institution in 1799, when a site was purchased in Albemarle Street for “an establishment in London for diffusing the knowledge of useful mechanical improvements,” to “teach the application of science to the useful purposes of life.” The institution was incorporated in the following year. One of the most important epochs in the history of chemistry must be dated from the establishment of the laboratory where Davy and Faraday pursued their investigations. Belonging to the institution are foundations for professorships in natural philosophy, chemistry and physiology. Courses of lectures on special subjects are given as well as discourses (once a week) of a more general and literary character. Its Journal has been issued since 1802. The London Institution was established on a similar basis in 1805 and incorporated in 1807. The building in Finsbury Circus was erected in 1819. The British Association for the Advancement of Science was instituted at York on 27th September 1831, an imitation of the itinerant scientific parliament held in Germany since 1822 (already referred to), and arose from a proposal by Sir D. Brewster. A meeting is held annually at some place in the British empire chosen at a previous meeting. The object of the association is to promote science, to direct general attention to scientific matters, and to facilitate intercourse between scientific workers. Abstracts of the proceedings and reports of committees are published in the annual Report (1833, &c.). The Historical Society of Science (1841) printed a couple of volumes; and the Ray Society (1844), instituted for the printing of original and scarce old works in zoology and botany, still flourishes. The Royal Colonial Institute was founded in 1868 and incorporated in 1882. It provides a place of meeting for gentlemen connected with the colonies and British India, undertakes investigations into subjects relating to the British empire, has established a museum and library, and gives lectures in its new, building in Northumberland Avenue (London). It has published Proceedings since 1870. The Victoria Institute, or Philosophical Society of Great Britain, was founded in 1865 to form a connecting bond between men of science and others engaged in investigating important questions of philosophy and science, more especially those bearing upon the truths revealed in Holy Scripture. Its organ is the Journal (1867, &c.). The Royal Asiatic Society and the East India Association (1866) publish Journals.The African Society meets at the Imperial Institute and publishes a