Online Encyclopedia

LEARNED SOCIETIES

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 309 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LEARNED SOCIETIES. 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 and Arzte 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 Congres Archeologique de France (1834), which was organized by the Societe Francaise pour la Conservation des Monuments Historiques, the Congres Scientifique, which held its first meeting at Caen in 1833 (directed by the Institut des Provinces), and the Congres des Societes Savantes des Depa.rte ments, which for many years after 185o held its annual sittings at Paris. The idea received the sanction of the French government in 1861, when 'a Congres des Societes Savantes was first convoked at the Sorbonne by the minister of public instruction, who had in 1846 produced an Annuaire des Societes 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 Congres International d'Archeologie et d'Anthropologie Prehistoriques, founded at Spezzia in 1865, and the Congres International des Orientalistes (1873). I. SCIENCE GENERALLY
End of Article: LEARNED SOCIETIES
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