In over 200 years from foundation to the present day, the Society has built up a wealth of comprehensive and continuous archive material.
The archives were catalogued professionally in 2015 and the catalogue is available to view on ArchiveSearch.
Access to all these records is welcomed for the purpose of any bona fide research. If you would like to access the archives please follow the link above to the ArchiveSearch site.
Arrangement of the archives: The archives have been arranged largely by their function; constitutional records, Council records, financial records, membership records etc. Each section and sub-section is arranged broadly chronologically.
Covering dates: 1799-2014. As you can see, some papers, for example, personal papers of members, predate the foundation of the Society.
While not on public display, the archives can be viewed by prior arrangement with the Cambridge Philosophical Society.
The Cambridge Philosophical Society Archives catalogue is available as a PDF download.
Photo: CPS 12/1 Anthropometric Committee record cards. The beginnings of ‘big data’, can be found in a project sponsored by the Philosophical Society. In 1886 the Cambridge Anthropometric Committee began recording anthropometric data for university students, a project which ran for two decades and produced around 9,000 personalised cards.
Photo: CPS 10/3/1 Copper plate engravings.
One of 26 copper plates in our archive which date from around 1826-1833. These plates were used to produce illustrations in the early publications of Cambridge Philosophical Society.
The Society archives include the following:
Photo: A copy of Biological Reviews, issue 37, 1962.
Photo: CPS 10/3/3. Hand-coloured illustration of Rhombus Maderensis from ‘On the fishes of Madeira’ by Richard Thomas Lowe and published in ‘Transactions’ of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, Vol 6. in 1838.
Cambridge Philosophical Society Founded
New Botanic Garden opens
New Fitzwilliam Museum building opens
Natural Sciences Tripos starts
Cavendish laboratory opens
Balfour laboratory for women opens
Women first eligible as honorary fellows of CPS
Women eligible to be full fellows of CPS
Women first awarded degrees
Philosophical Library becomes Scientific Periodicals Library
Henslow Fellowship scheme launched
From Darwin’s paper on evolution to the development of stem cell research, publications from the Society continue to shape the scientific landscape.
Mathematical Proceedings is one of the few high-quality journals publishing original research papers that cover the whole range of pure and applied mathematics, theoretical physics and statistics.
Biological Reviews covers the entire range of the biological sciences, presenting several review articles per issue. Although scholarly and with extensive bibliographies, the articles are aimed at non-specialist biologists as well as researchers in the field.
The Spirit of Inquiry celebrates the 200th anniversary of the remarkable Cambridge Philosophical Society and brings to life the many remarkable episodes and illustrious figures associated with the Society, including Adam Sedgwick, Mary Somerville, Charles Darwin, and Lawrence Bragg.
Become a Fellow of the Society and enjoy the benefits that membership brings. Membership costs £20 per year.
Please Note: This event has been postponed until after Easter 2022. Further details will be announced.
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