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The Making of the Geological Society of London

Product Code: SP317
Series: GSL Special Publications - print copy
Author/Editor: Edited by C.L.E. Lewis and S.J. Knell
Publication Date: 03 September 2009
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Special Publication 317

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 Two previously unpublished works from this period, essential to understanding the founding of the Society, are reproduced here for the first time.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.

Type: Book
Ten Digit ISBN: 1-86239-277-3
Thirteen Digit ISBN: 978-1-86239-277-9
Publisher: GSL
Binding: Hardback
Pages: 488
Weight: 1.25 kg


List of Subscribers


The road to Smith: how the Geological Society came to possess English geology, S J Knell

The Founders

Doctoring geology: the medical origins of the Geological Society, C L E Lewis
Chemists get down to Earth, D Knight
Jacques-Louis, Comte de Bournon, G L Herries Davies
George Bellas Greenough’s ‘Theory of the Earth’ and its impact on the early Geological Society, M Kölbl-Ebert
Dissenting science: the Quakers among the Founding Fathers, H S Torrens

The Status of Geology

The early Geological Society in its international context, M J S Rudwick
Geology beyond the Channel: the beginnings of geohistory in early nineteenth-century France, P Taquet
The rise of geology as a science in Germany around 1800, M Guntau
Light and shadow: the status of Italian geology around 1807, G B Vai
Scientific institutions and the beginnings of geology in Russia, V E Khain & I G Malakhova
A story of things yet-to-be: the status of geology in the United States in 1807, J R Newell

The Nature of Geology

Military men: Napoleonic warfare and early members of the Geological Society, E P F Rose
Practical geology and the early Geological Society, L Veneer
Geology at the crossroads: aspects of the geological career of Dr John MacCulloch, A J Bowden
John Playfair on Schiehallion, 1801–1811, J R Smallwood
Picturesque ruin and geological antiquity: Thomas Webster and Sir Henry Englefield on the Isle of Wight, N Heringman
The Geological Society and its official recognition, 1824–1828, P J Boylan
Facts and fancies: the Geological Society of London and the wider public, 1807–1837, R O’connor
The Geological Society on the other side of the world, D F Branagan
The first female Fellows and the status of women in the Geological Society of London, C V Burek

The Bicentenary

A year to remember, T Nield
Walk with the Founding Fathers, M J S Rudwick
Dining with the Founding Fathers: a personal view, R T J Moody


Appendix I: Geological Inquiries (1808)
Appendix II: Preface to Comte de Bournon’s Complete Treatise of Carbonated Lime and Aragonite (1808)


T. J. A. Reijers

The book is eminently readable and compulsory for anyone interested in the history of the Earth sciences. As such it is wholeheartedly recommended.

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