AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area

Fellowship and Membership records of the Geological Society of London

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 378 GSL/F
Held at: Geological Society of London
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: Fellowship and Membership records of the Geological Society of London
Date(s): 1807-current
Level of description: Series
Extent: 15 shelves
Name of creator(s): Geological Society of London


Administrative/Biographical history:

Like other learned societies, establishing a membership body formed of like minded individuals was one of the core aims of the Geological Society of London when it was established in 1807. Up until 1825, when the Society was granted its Royal Charter, there were only two categories of membership - Ordinary Members and Honorary Members (the latter category modified to 'Foreign' Members from December 1814).

To become an Ordinary Member, a candidate had to be first proposed and recommended by at least three existing members, one of whom should personally know the prospective member. The proposal was in the form of an admission certificate, usually completed by the main proposer, which would be displayed in one of the public rooms of the Society. Voting would take place at the specified Ordinary Meeting, whereby if the candidate received approval from at least two thirds of the attendees he would be accepted as a new member. If he was not successful, his admission form would be destroyed. New members would pay a joining fee and sign a form obligating themselves to promote the aims of the Geological Society of London. Members who lived within a 20 mile radius of London would pay an additional annual fee, not applicable to those living outside of London as presumably they were less likely to use the Society's facilities.

Distinguished mineralogists and persons who had by their communications or contributions promoted the objects of the Society could be proposed as Honorary/Foreign Members. The system for proposal was similar to that of Ordinary Members but instead at least five existing members had to propose the candidate. Honorary Members did not pay the joining fee or annual subscription but could use the Society's facilities such as the Library or Museum, although they were not allowed to vote.

After the Society's official incorporation in 1826, the categories of membership were modified slightly to reflect the new Royal Charter - Ordinary Members became 'Fellows' but the honorary category of Foreign Member remained. It should be noted that it was not until the mid 20th century that formal qualifications were required for entry as a Fellow of the Geological Society of London. Additionally women were not allowed to join until 1919, the first official female Fellow being Margaret Chorley Crosfield who was elected in May of that year.

In 1863 a new category of honorary membership was introduced - Foreign Correspondent. A stage below Foreign Member, a Foreign Correspondent had to have distinguished himself as a geological investigator or communicated extensively with the Society but 'be a native of the British Dominions or of their dependencies, or be domiciliated therein'. Foreign Correspondents had no privileges at the Society, but from their rank would be elected Foreign Members who were not allowed to propose candidates, vote at general meetings or to fill any office at the Society, but were entitled to exercise all other privileges allowed to Fellows. There was a quota of 40 Foreign Correspondents and 40 Foreign Members allowed at one time, and as they didn't pay neither category of member needed to actually turn up to the Society in person. In 1974, the category was merged and renamed 'Honorary Fellow', limited to a maximum of 100, with not more than 15 coming from the UK.

Apart from Fellow and Honorary Fellow, the Society now offers another four grades of membership: Junior Candidate Fellow (for secondary school children between the ages 16-18); Candidate Fellow, previously Junior Associateship (for geology undergraduates, first introduced in 1945); Chartered Geologist (open to Fellows of the Society with no less than five years' postgraduate experience); European Geologist (licensed by the European Federation of Geologists and open to Chartered Geologists); and Chartered Scientist (licensed by the Science Council, open to those Fellows who have moved out of mainstream geological work since completing higher education, but who wish to register themselves as high calibre scientists and teachers of science).


Scope and content/abstract:

Fellowship and membership records of the Geological Society of London, 1807-current, comprising:

Admission certificates for candidates accepted as members of the Society, including Foreign Members and Correspondents, 1810-current; Nomination books for Foreign Members and Correspondents, 1871-1999; Fellowship admission fee registers, 1829-1954; Obligation forms signed by new members agreeing to promote the aims of the Society, 1838-1954; Obligation signature books, 1807-1964; Fellowship annual subscription registers, 1829-1921; Annual Fellowship lists, usually listing date of election and current known address, 1807-current; Junior Associateship records, mostly application forms, 1945-1981;Records of Chartered Geologists, 1990-2012; Annual summary of newly elected and removed Fellows, arranged according to date of Council Meeting, 1951-1967.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged according to series as specified above.

Conditions governing access:

Series is subject to the Data Protection Act, some files may therefore be closed. Please contact the Archivist for further information.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to copyright and the condition of the original, may be supplied. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Archivist.

Finding aids:

Admission forms are usually arranged according to their membership number, a card index (which is not available to the public) lists members alphabetically with their membership number.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

In November 1913, Council ordered that nominations for Foreign Members and Correspondents should be referred to the Awards Committee, therefore see also: GSL/COM/A.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Description by Caroline Lam

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
September 2011

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"