200 Years of Scientific Publishing at the Cambridge Philosophical Society

Display at the Whipple Library showcases a significant donation of material from the Cambridge Philosophical Society, and has been curated by Dr Edwin Rose.

Geological map of Anglesey from J.S. Henslow's 1822 article Geological Description of Anglesea. Article form the Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society Volume 1 pp 359-452.

Photo: Geological map of Anglesey from J.S. Henslow's 1822 article Geological Description of Anglesea. Article form the Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society Volume 1 pp 359-452.

In the early nineteenth century no scientific society was complete without its own journal. Established on 15 November 1819 the Cambridge Philosophical Society (CPS) was founded to promote scientific inquiry and facilitate the communication of facts associated with the advancement of philosophy and natural history. Its membership included many of the greatest scholars of the age. The Society was founded as a space for university graduates to discuss and present new research. Within a year of its foundation the CPS was holding fortnightly meetings and had founded the most extensive scientific library and first museum of natural history in Cambridge.

The current exhibition examines the Society’s publishing programme over the last two centuries starting with the first issue of the new journal the Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, the first part of which was printed in 1821. The Transactions was a product of the wealth of material presented at society meetings. The Cambridge Quarterly Review ranked it ‘among the most scientific [journals] of the day; dreading no comparisons with the Transactions of National Societies themselves.’ .

This exhibition has been generated through the CPS’s generous donation of a number of journals from its stores in 2023 and enthusiasm to loan items from its archives. Many of the early issues remain in large printed sheets, compiled and folded over once to facilitate storage. Later on, Cambridge University Press placed the journals in glued paper or card covers, a legacy of the onset of machine printing and mechanised binding techniques in the late nineteenth century. The unused nature of this archive casts a unique perspective onto the processes of compiling, printing and distributing scientific journals in Cambridge from 1821.

Further information:

https://www.whipplelib.hps.cam.ac.uk/

Display at the Whipple Library: 200 Years of Scientific Publishing at the Cambridge Philosophical Society

Photo: Display at the Whipple Library: 200 Years of Scientific Publishing at the Cambridge Philosophical Society

Display at the Whipple Library: 200 Years of Scientific Publishing at the Cambridge Philosophical Society

Photo: Display at the Whipple Library: 200 Years of Scientific Publishing at the Cambridge Philosophical Society

Display at the Whipple Library: 200 Years of Scientific Publishing at the Cambridge Philosophical Society

Photo: Display at the Whipple Library: 200 Years of Scientific Publishing at the Cambridge Philosophical Society

CPS Vice-President Dr Claire Barlow with Dr Edwin Rose discussing exhibits from the new Whipple Library  exhibition '200 Years of Scientific Publishing at the Cambridge Philosophical Society' which opened on Monday 22nd January, 2024.

Photo: CPS Vice-President Dr Claire Barlow with Dr Edwin Rose discussing exhibits from the new Whipple Library exhibition '200 Years of Scientific Publishing at the Cambridge Philosophical Society' which opened on Monday 22nd January, 2024.

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