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Ordinary Meetings of the Geological Society of London

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 378 GSL/OM
Held at: Geological Society of London
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Full title: Ordinary Meetings of the Geological Society of London
Date(s): 1807-current
Level of description: Series
Extent: 39 volumes and 8 files and electronic records
Name of creator(s): Geological Society of London | 1807-


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Geological Society was founded on 13 November 1807 for the purpose of 'making Geologists acquainted with each other, of stimulating their zeal, of inducing them to adopt one nomenclature, of facilitating the communication of new facts, and of ascertaining what is known in their science, and what yet remains to be discovered'. (GSL/OM/1/1, p1) This would be primarily achieved by holding regular meetings where members, later Fellows, could read papers or communications, show specimens and maps or donate material to the burgeoning Museum and Library. These 'Ordinary' meetings were initially held at the Freemason's Tavern until the Society acquired its own premises in 1809.

In its early days, all business concerning the running of the Society was discussed at the Ordinary Meetings, including the proposal and election of new Fellows. However, much of the overall responsibility for the management of the Society's affairs was taken over by Council which was first appointed on 1 June 1810.

By 1810, Ordinary Meetings were being held twice a month from November to June [the summer being a period when field trips would be undertaken], and overseen by the President of the Society. Non members could attend as long as they were introduced by a Fellow, however women were not admitted until the turn of the next century. There was a two year period during Leonard Horner's presidency (1860-1862) in which women were reportedly allowed as guests, but this attempt was seen as relatively unsuccessful as it was mainly Horner's daughters who came. Although the issue was raised on a frequent basis, it was not until 1901 when Archibald Geikie introduced two women to an Ordinary Meeting that the matter was settled. Women were finally be allowed to become full Fellows in 1919.

The Ordinary Meeting format had changed by the 1970s, the meetings being themed around a specific topic and hence developing into the special scientific meetings which are now held. However the bye-laws of the Society stipulate that only certain business, such as the election of new members and calls for Special General Meetings, can be held at Ordinary General Meetings. As the meetings calendar gradually moved away from the traditional Ordinary Meetings, the procedures of the OGM were inserted into other meeting events, especially during the 1990s. OGMs are now held five times a year after each meeting of Council, the only business essentially now conducted is the admission of new members.

Note: as Ordinary Meetings were, for the most part, held in the evening they are sometimes referred to as 'Evening Meetings' in the archival record.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Ordinary Meetings of the Geological Society of London, 1807-current, comprising:

Minutes of Ordinary Meetings, 1807-current; Printed notices and meetings cards giving dates of the forthcoming Ordinary Meetings and later other meetings organised by the Society and its specialist groups, 1810-1996 [incomplete]; Agendas for Ordinary Meetings, 1855-current; Attendance books containing signatures of Fellows and their visitors attending Ordinary Meetings of the Society, 1858-1991 [incomplete].

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

As above.

Conditions governing access:

Some files may contain information restricted under the Data Protection Act. 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:

Detailed, online catalogue will be available soon.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Between 1811-1856, selected papers and lists of donations to the Society were published in 'The Transactions of the Geological Society of London', series 1-2. 'The Proceedings of the Geological Society of London', 1827-1845, contained reports of the Ordinary Meetings, including abstracts (later longer and illustrated versions) of all papers read. From 1845, selected papers were then published in the 'Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London' [later 'Journal of the Geological Society of London'], however another publication issued between 1857-1971 entitled 'Abstracts of the Proceedings of the Geological Society of London', again contained abstracts of all papers and discussions at Ordinary Meetings.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Regulations and Byelaws of the Society (ref: GSL/GS/2); Woodward, H B. 'The History of the Geological Society of London', London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1908; Burek, C. "The first female Fellows and the status of women in the Geological Society", from 'The Making of the Geological Society', Special Publication 317, London: Geological Society of London, 2009. 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:
August 2012; revised November 2013.

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