The New International Encyclopædia/Birkbeck, George
BIRKBECK, bẽrk'bĕk, George (1776-1841). An English physician and educational reformer, born at Settle, Yorkshire. He studied medicine at the universities of Edinburgh and London. At the age of 23 he was appointed professor of philosophy at the Andersonian University, Glasgow, where in 1800 he introduced a course of lectures to workingmen. This ‘mechanics' class’ evolved, in 1823, into the Glasgow Mechanics' Institution, which is believed to have been the first institution of its kind. This was followed in 1824 by the London Mechanics' Institution, also organized by Dr. Birkbeck, and subsequently named in his honor. The success of these educational establishments paved the way for the present system of popular scientific education in England.