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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.

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