Item 4 - Printed report of the [committee of] the Royal Society, on the proposal to establish a British Academy.

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Printed report of the [committee of] the Royal Society, on the proposal to establish a British Academy.


  • 28 Jun 1900 (Creation)

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Refers to a letter to the Royal Society from Lord Dillon on behalf of several interested gentlemen, including Arthur Balfour, James Bryce, Lord Acton, HS, Professor Jebb, W.E. Lecky, Leslie Stephen, and others, in relation to the formation of a British Academy.

Also refers to Henry Sidgwick's plan for the the institution of a new academy or section. Lays out plan, including the ways in which the Royal Society might aid in the project. Refers to its proposed scope in terms of subject-related sections. Refers to the participation of the Royal Society in the foundation of an International Association of the principal Scientific and Literary Academies of the world, and to a scheme drawn up for the organisation of the Association, which provides for the division of the Association into two sections - ' "Scientific" ' and ' "Literary" '. Points out that there is no existing institution 'competent to represent the United Kingdom in the Philosophico-Historical [Literary] section', and this fact is used as an argument for the foundation of a new Academy.

Includes proposals 'submitted to the Committee' on ways in which the demand for the representation of Philosophico-Historical studies in an Academy might be dealt with, including the creations of an organisation independent of the Royal Society; the creation of two ' "Academies" ' within the Royal Society; the creation of two or three ' "Sections" ' of the Royal Society; and the creation of twenty-five to fifty Fellows 'representing the Philosophico-Historical subjects, to serve as a nucleus, and creation of three or four committees, similar to those already existing, viz., one for Ethnography and Archaeology, one for Philology, one for Statistics and Political Economy, and one for Psychology...'.

Reports that the above schemes were discussed at an interview with a number of representatives of the Philosophico-Historical Sciences, and that the general opinion of these gentlemen was in favour of the creation of two or three sections of the Royal Society. Refers to the issue of whether the Royal Society 'will be more useful if the area of its interests is enlarged.' Discusses the divisions between the Natural Sciences and the Philosophico-Historical group of sciences, and the manner in which each group is treated in other European countries. Raises the question of Government grants, and suggests that if new subjects were to share in these grants it might have the effect of dividing the Royal Society into sections with comparatively weak common interests. Refers also to the effect of the scheme on expenditure and on the organisation of the staff.

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