Reference numberJBO
TitleJournal Book Original: minutes of meetings of the Royal Society
DescriptionThe Journal Books series contains recorded minutes of the ordinary, special and anniversary meetings of the Society. The nature of the information recorded varies somewhat over time but typically set out the following: person in the chair; notice of proposed Fellows, elections to the Fellowship and Council; non-Fellows given leave to be present; books and rarities presented to the Society; committees formed; information reported or desired by Fellows and their contacts; experiments and investigations carried out or designated to be carried out by Fellows. By the 18th century far fewer experiments and demonstrations were carried out at meetings themselves. Letters and papers read before the Society are given in abstract sometimes with summary of the subsequent discussion. By the 19th century much of this earlier detail is lost, so that, for example, only titles of papers are recorded.

Minutes do not include a register of Fellows present at meetings, nor is such a register to be found in any surviving records of the Society.
Extent57 volumes (in progress)
Physical descriptionLeather bound volumes
ArrangementChronological by date of meeting
Finding aidsVolumes 1-9 contain individual indexes covering the period 1660-1694.
The AltRefNo field gives the page number of the first page of the meeting
Access statusOpen
Access conditionsClosed for 30 years after date of creation
Administrative historyThe series begins with the very first meeting of the newly formed Society, held in Gresham College on 28 November 1660 following a lecture by Christopher Wren. A copy of the Journal Book Original was made retrospectively in the early eighteenth century, and then regularly to the early nineteenth century for the purposes of greater security, see ref no JBC.

In 1988 at the Special General Meeting of 17 November 1988 the Council approved a proposal, expressed in detail in an Appendix , to formally amend Statute 60, to separate the business meetings of the Society from the scientific lectures and meetings. The scientific discussions and lectures open to Fellows alone had been replaced with a programme of lectures and meetings open to all, with ordinary meetings of Fellows having become brief formal meetings for Statutory business. Decisions on the venues and dates of lectures , which broke the tradition that lectures be tied to Ordinary meetings, had been made by Council on 16 June 1988, minute 22.
Related materialThis collection contains the original Journal Books. Copies were made in the eighteenth century, for copy versions see ref no JBC (Journal Book Copy, 43 volumes, 1660-1826). In addition to these, there are the Secretaries minutes of meetings (MS/557-574, 18 volumes 1662-1761) and rough minutes (MS/575-579, 5 volumes 1685-1711, and MS 799, 1 box, 1776-1778) which were written up to form the Journal Books.

There is a general index to the Journal, Register and Letter Books, compiled in 1689 by Richard Waller and continued to 1695 (two volumes, volume 1 A-M, volume 2 M-Z) This lists subjects and classes of phenomena, and directs the user to locations of papers in the Journal Books, Registers and Letters, to their author and to the place of publication. A copy version of this in one volume is less complete than the original. Two further volumes (MS/703-4) provide a chronological list of papers read before the Society during the years 1660-1738 including communications not minuted. In addition to giving the date of reading (and therefore the Journal Book entry) these volumes refer the user to copy papers in the Register and Letter Books, to the location of the original Manuscripts in the 'Classified Papers' and 'Early Letters', and to places of publication. Similar information for the Journal entries of 1741-1748 is contained in a 'Table of contents...' (MS/213) except that the original papers in this case are in the 'Letters and Papers'.

The Journal Books for 1660-1687 were printed in Thomas Birch in his 'History of the Royal Society' (London, 1756-1757). This, however, is not a transcript, and differs in content from the Journal Books Original. The Journal Book Original 1660-1800 is available on microfilm from University Publications of America.
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    Browse the records of some of our collections, which cover all branches of science and date from the 12th century onwards. These include the published works of Fellows of the Royal Society, personal papers of eminent scientists, letters and manuscripts sent to the Society or presented at meetings, and administrative records documenting the Society's activities since our foundation in 1660.

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