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Corporate entry Philosophical Society of Queensland (1859 - 1884)

Queensland, Australia
Queensland, Australia
Alternative Names
  • Queensland Philosophical Society (Also known as)


The Philosophical Society was established in 1859 before amalgamating with the Royal Society of Queensland in 1884.


The Philosophical Society of Queensland, also known as the Queensland Philosophical Society, was founded in 1859 by Dr Fredrick James Barton, Surgeon and Government Meteorologist, Charles Coxen, Member of Parliament and Crown Lands Commissioner, and Reverend George Wight, London Colonial Missionary Society. The aim of the Philosophical Society of Queensland was 'the discussion of scientific subjects, with special reference to the natural history, soil, climate and agriculture of the colony of Queensland'.

The Philosophical Society of Queensland was focused on the establishment and formation of a museum of natural science, established in 1855. Members contributed their private collections to the public museum. The collection was housed in a number of locations over the years while key members of the Philosophical Society of Queensland petitioned Government for a public museum to be erected. In 1871 the Government assumed responsibility for the collection before the construction of the first purpose built museum in 1879.

It also published three volumes of Transactions and a series of articles in the Queensland Guardian on topics including:

  • Zoology;
  • Geology;
  • Climatology;
  • Agriculture;
  • Building construction;
  • Sanitation; and
  • Health.

The Philosophical Society of Queensland's first lecture was delivered by Dr Frederick James Barton providing advice on 'Hall's' artificial respiration due to high levels of drownings in the community.

In 1883 after reflecting on the state of the Philosophical Society of Queensland compared to similar bodies in other Australian colonies the Philosophical Society of Queensland decided to reconstitute itself as the Royal Society of Queensland. This new society (Royal Society of Queensland) would model itself on similar more successful scientific societies throughout Australia. The Philosophical Society of Queensland officially handed over all its assets on the 22nd and 23rd of January 1884 to the new Royal Society of Queensland. These assets included a small amount of money and a small library.


 1859 - 1884 Philosophical Society of Queensland
       1884 - Royal Society of Queensland

Archival resources

John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland

  • Queensland Philosophical Society and Royal Society of Queensland Minute Books, 1859 - 1930s, 30771; John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland. Details

Published resources

Journal Articles


Resource Sections

See also

  • Lynam, C. J., 'The uncatalogued Townsville earthquake of 1879: found documented in the Queensland Philosophical Society minute book', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland, 123 (2018), 69-73. Details

Elizabeth Daniels