Dates: 1882 - 1894
The archival collection known as 'Proceedings Papers' is comprised of manuscripts and occasional proofs of scientific papers sent to the Royal Society which were read before meetings of Fellows and printed in full in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.
by Layla Hillsden
Cataloguer on Science in the Making
This series corresponds to material featured in volumes 33-56 of the printed publication. As it is currently undergoing digitisation, images for many of the volumes will be forthcoming. Currently volumes 1 - 21 are available online, with the remaining three volumes appearing as soon as they have been captured.
'Proceedings Papers' provides an insight into the editing and printing process of scientific papers submitted to the Society. Many manuscripts feature annotations and amendments in pencil and ink, as in the case of George F Dowdeswell’s ‘On rabies’, which was eventually published in volume 43 of the Proceedings.
Throughout the collection, manuscripts with figures include notes to the engraver regarding how the figures should be represented on the printed page.
Figures that have notes to the engraver
Paper, 'Researches in stelllar photography. 1. In its relation to the photometry of the stars. 2. Its applicability to astronomical measurements of great precision' by Charles PritchardCreator: Charles Pritchard Reference number: PP/9/3
Creator: William Crookes Reference number: PP/10/6
In some cases, prints of the engraved figures have been retained and are included with the papers alongside the original hand-drawn figures.
Paper, 'Report on the capacities, in respect of light and photographic action, of two silver on glass mirrors of different focal lengths' by C [Charles] PritchardCreator: Charles Pritchard Reference number: PP/12/9
Huggins papers found in 'Proceedings Papers'
Creator: William Huggins Reference number: PP/1/35
Paper, 'On the spectrum, visible and photographic, of the great nebula in Orion' by William Huggins and [Margaret Lindsay] HugginsCreator: William Huggins Reference number: PP/14/4
Spectroscopy in the 'Proceedings Papers'
Paper, 'General observations on the spectra of carbon and its compounds' by [George Downing] Liveing and [James] DewarCreator: James Dewar, George Downing Liveing Reference number: PP/2/17
Paper, 'Investigations on the spectrum of magnesium. No II' by George Downing Liveing and James DewarCreator: George Downing Liveing, James Dewar Reference number: PP/12/13
Creator: George Downing Liveing, James Dewar Reference number: PP/9/15
While chemistry and physics appear to dominate the collection, the biological sciences are represented through manuscripts on topics including pathology, morphology and embryology, including this 1882 paper by Alexander Fraser, 'On the inversion of the blastodermic layers in the rat and mouse'.
Palaeontology is also an area of interest: here, Harry Govier Seeley presents figures of the proposed pelvic bone structures of Stegosauria, Ornithopoda, Theropoda and Sauropoda.
Lockyer would go on to present an appendix to his Bakerian Lecture the following year, ‘bringing together and co-ordinating as great a number of recorded observations as possible’ on the classification of heavenly bodies.
The collection features several appendices and responses to papers published in the Proceedings, occasionally highlighting disagreements between scientists, but also indicating the ongoing and often collaborative nature of scientific research and discovery. Here, Georg Hermann Quincke shares details of his own experiments into the dielectric constant in response to John Hopkinson's 'Note on specific inductive capacity'.
Collaborative science in the 'Proceedings Papers'
Creator: John Hopkinson Reference number: PP/9/16
Paper, 'Notiz über die Dielectricitätsconstante von Flüssigkeiten' [Note on the dielectric constant of liquids] by [Georg Hermann] QuinckeCreator: Georg Hermann Quincke Reference number: PP/9/17
Elsewhere in the collection, A. Stroh follows up a paper on the invention of a new form of stereoscope with the acknowledgement that a 'paper [describing] the essential points of the apparatus' had been read to the Dublin Royal Society on 20 January 1879, seven years before the presentation of Stroh's paper to the Royal Society.
Stroh's work on spectroscopes
Letter, 'Note on a paper entitled "On a new form of stereoscope"' from A Stroh to the Secretary of the Royal Society [John William Strutt]Creator: A Stroh Reference number: PP/9/7
Creator: A Stroh Reference number: PP/8/20
Alongside pioneering scientific research and collaborations, 'Proceedings Papers' contains some material which would be considered outdated or offensive by today’s standards. Daniel John Cunningham’s 1889 paper 'The spinal curvature in an Aboriginal Australian' features racist terminology in its descriptions of Aboriginal peoples. The paper’s subsequent publication in volume 45 of the Proceedings is indicative of the acceptance of a colonialist, Eurocentric viewpoint in nineteenth-century scientific publishing.
'Proceedings Papers' does not contain the full manuscript for every paper published in volumes 33-56 of the Proceedings. Eighty-seven papers are unaccounted for within the collection, together with some illustrative material. This is likely due to material being left with the printer or engraver or to being otherwise misplaced during the publishing process.
This unaccounted-for material is identified as ‘wanting’ in a table of contents (or box list) for each volume worth of material in the collection.