The Chemical Society of London, now the Royal Society of Chemistry, held its inaugural formation meeting 170 years ago today
February 23 is a special day for chemistry - 170 years ago today, learned gentlemen met at the Society of Arts, John St Adelphi, "for the purpose of taking into consideration the formation of a Chemical Society." Today is the 170th birthday, as it were, of what would become the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The motion to create the Society was proposed by Robert Warington, a brewing chemist, who served as honorary secretary. It is noted that "the thanks of the meeting went... to Professor Graham for his kindness in taking the chair."
"Professor Graham" was Thomas Graham, a noted Scottish chemist whose noted achievements were "Graham's Law", which describes how bigger gas molecules diffuse more slowly, and his discovery of dialysis, a valuable concept used widely in medicine today.
Thomas Graham would remain in the chair and become the first President of the Society; and many years later the new Cambridge offices of the Royal Society of Chemistry would be named 'Thomas Graham House' in his honour.
With the ever-helpful RSC Library collections coordinator David Allen, I delved into the RSC's vault and sneaked a peek at the very first minutes of the Society. Here's a selection of pics of that very first page of Warington's spidery handwriting, and the sign-off from the first President.
Seven years later the Chemical Society of London held a Royal Charter and international membership, and were publishing their discussions in a journal.
A primary aim of the Chemical Society was "...for the communication and discussion of discoveries and observations, an account of which shall be published by the Society in the form of Proceedings or Transactions".
The members at meetings discussed concepts like measuring the amounts of metals in mineral ores, detecting small amounts of chemicals, gases created by acidic reactions and so forth.
The Proceedings and Transactions were published in the Journal of the Chemical Society, which ran in various forms until 1965. The RSC now publishes around 35 journals on a range of areas, like Nanoscale and Food & Function, but some more traditional fields retain the links to the originals, like Dalton Transactions.
In 1972 the Chemical Society began to merge with the Royal Institute of Chemistry, the Society for Analytical Chemistry and the Faraday Society, and in 1980 the merger was completed to form the Royal Society of Chemistry as it is today, with a new Royal Charter and dual role of learned society and professional body.
The RSC now has 47,500 members worldwide, a world-class portfolio of high-impact research journals, books and conferences, and prominently promotes and defends the chemical sciences at the highest levels of media and Parliament. All this came from a group of scientists in a small room just off the Strand who wanted to talk about chemistry 170 years ago today. blog comments powered by