Practical geology and the early Geological Society
Historical accounts of the interests and activities of the Geological Society of London have often portrayed the Society as indifferent to practical geology and as being focused instead on fieldwork and gentlemanly debate. However, the Society’s founders displayed a wide range of interests in the applications of geology and mineralogy. The British Mineralogical Society had been established in 1799 to elucidate the mineral history of Britain and to amass practical information for the benefit of British mining, and the members of this society later brought with them into the Geological Society their practical and mineralogical interests. Close study of the early projects of the Geological Society shows that the membership at this time had a great interest in the practical applications of geology, and especially mining. However, it is clear that there was a significant change in the Society’s programmatic activities in the late 1810s and 1820s, when the Society moved away from practical geology. These changes reflected a changing membership.
Figures & Tables
The Making of the Geological Society of London
Founded in 1807, the Geological Society of London became the world’s first learned society devoted to the Earth sciences. In celebration of the Society’s 200-year history, this book commemorates the lives of the Society’s 13 founders and sets geology in its national and European context at the turn of the nineteenth century. In Britain, geology was emerging as a subject in its own right from three closely related disciplines — chemistry, mineralogy and medicine — disciplines that reflect the principal professions and interests of the founders. The tremendous energy and cooperation of these 13 men, about whom little was previously known, quickly mobilized like-minded men around the country and fuelled the nation’s passion for geology; an enthusiasm that soon spread to America and Australia. Two previously unpublished works from this period, essential to understanding the founding of the Society, are reproduced here for the first time. The book closes with a review of the Society’s 2007 Bicentenary celebrations.