Royal Society of Canada fonds [multiple media]
Record Information – Brief1
Royal Society of Canada fonds [multiple media]
- Hierarchical level:
- R9351-0-6-E, MG28-I458
- Type of material:
- Textual material, Photographs, Objects (including medals and pins), Moving images, Sound recordings
- Found in:
- Archives / Collections and Fonds
- Item ID number:
- Context of this record:
Record Information – Details
- Fonds includes:
7 lower level description(s)View lower level description(s)
- Place of creation:
28 m of textual records.
3 audio reels (10 h, 38 min).
1 audio cassette.
- Language of material:
- Scope and content:
The fonds consists of textual records, photographs and other media created by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) documenting its role as the original and leading learned society for the sciences, social sciences, and humanities in Canada. It comprises the files of its executive, national office, and constituent sections and academies that relate to its administration, programmes and projects, annual meetings, sections and academies, membership and awards, conferences and symposia, centennial and history.
- Biography/Administrative history:
Royal Society of Canada : The Royal Society of Canada was created in 1882 on the initiative of the Marquess of Lorne, the Governor-General of Canada, to bring together in one organization leading figures in the sciences and the humanities. It originally consisted of four sections with twenty members in each: Section I, Littérature français, Histoire et Archéologie; Section II, English Literature, History and Archaeology; Section III, Mathematical, Physical and Chemical Sciences; and Section IV, Geological and Biological Sciences. Each section had its own president and other officers and managed its own affairs with considerable autonomy. Membership was restricted to individuals who had made outstanding contributions in their field of knowledge or expertise and its purpose was to recognize and honour those contributions. New members were elected by the existing members of the section on the basis of their achievements. Sir William Dawson, the Principal of McGill University, was the first president of the society, and Sir John G. Bourinot, Clerk of the House of Commons, was the first secretary. Many of the charter members were civil servants, clergy, journalists and university teachers. Parliament granted funds to publish and distribute its annual Proceedings and Transactions. Outside of honouring its members by election, the annual meetings and the publication of the Proceedings and Transactions were the chief activities of the new society. In the absence of scholarly journals and other outlets for the publication of research in late 19th and early 20th century Canada, the Proceedings and Transactions quickly became the leading instrument for the dissemination of research in the humanities and sciences. There were fewer distinctions then between amateur and professional researchers and many individuals made scholarly contributions across several widely differing fields of inquiry. Section IV divided into two sections in 1918 with the creation of Section V for the biological sciences. The creation of the National Research Council (NRC) during the First World War also signaled a shifting role for the Royal Society, while the NRC provided additional funding to the society it also gradually absorbed much of its role in the promotion and dissemination of scientific research. Indeed, its office moved from the National Museum, which had given it a room in 1913, to the NRC building in 1932. Donations from wealthy patrons enabled the society to concentrate further on its primary role of honouring distinguished achievement with the creation of the Flavelle Medal for science in 1925, the Pierce Medal for imaginative or creative writing in 1926, and the J. B. Tyrrell Medal for history in 1928. The structure and role of the Royal Society continued to evolve during the postwar years. Concerns among scientists arose over the disparity between Section III, which encompassed several "hard" sciences like physics, chemistry, astronomy and mathematics, and Sections IV and V which each represented the single sciences of geology and biology. These concerns ultimately prompted the amalgamation of the three sections into one section for the sciences, named Section III, with separate divisions for different disciplines. To further reflect its aspirations, the Royal Society renamed the sections as "academies" in 1975 to express its role as the "National Academy" of the sciences and humanities in Canada. Another change which had a significant impact on the society in the postwar years was the creation of the Canada Council in 1957 which quickly became a major source of funding along with the NRC. The proliferation of specialized academic journals in the 1960s and 1970s caused the relative importance of the Proceedings and Transactions to decline as a forum for original research. But a new role emerged in the hosting of interdisciplinary symposia on issues of common concern to its members, often held in conjunction with the annual meetings of other scholarly and academic associations which had clustered around the Royal Society's annual meeting in an event becoming known as the "learned societies" conference. In effect, a new mission of the society was combating the isolation of the increasingly specialized disciplines in the sciences and humanities. Administratively, the Royal Society hired Major Pierre Garneau, its first executive secretary, in 1970 to provide a permanent secretariat to coordinate its activities. Further growth occurred in 1989 when the Department of Industry, Science and Technology awarded the society an annual grant of $1 million for five years allowing its office to grow from six employees to twenty-one in a short time. The Royal Society moved out of the Public Archives and National Library building (where it had been housed since 1967 after moving there from the NRC) to its own office space on Sparks Street in Ottawa. Industry Canada did not renew the grant in 1994, however, and the size of the office staff reverted to its pre-grant levels. Today the Royal Society of Canada comprises some 1,800 leading scholars in the sciences and humanities who have received this highest of academic accolades.
- Finding aid:
Textual records: (Paper) The finding aid is a file list. MSS1874Textual records: (Electronic) Finding aid. MSS1874
http://data2.archives.ca/pdf/pdf001/p000000446.pdfPhotographs: (Paper) See Photographic inventories, indexes, and caption lists arranged by accession number. FA-500Objects: (Electronic) Refer to MINISIS for item-level descriptions. (Restrictions not set)Objects: (Paper) Refer to Medal inventory numbers 5083 and 5088. (Restrictions not set)Moving images and sound recordings: (Paper) Refer to AV collection files for additional information.
- Former archival reference no.:
Ordering and Viewing Options
- Conditions of access:
Textual records: The recipient of copies is responsible for determining if the material is protected by copyright and whether its use constitutes an infringement of the Canadian Copyright Act. LAC provides copies only for purposes of research and private study.
Photographs: Copyright varies. See individual item. Credit: Name of photographer / National Archives of Canada / Copy negative number.
Moving images and sound recordings: Reproduction with written permission of copyright owner. No donor restrictions.
Objects: Copyright held by the Royal Society of Canada. Credit: Library and Archives Canada.
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