The British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) was founded in 1831, based loosely on the German Gesellschaft deutscher Naturforscher und Aerzte. The BAAS was ostensibly to perform what its name conveys, the promotion of science in Britain. In the 1830s science was still quite a private affair. There was no governmental, educational, or industrial support infrastructure for science as would later become standard. It soon became one of the main public arenas for the discussion of scientific matters. The BAAS met every year in a different provincial city. Its meetings became major events. The yearly meetings were divided into sections for mathematical physics, geology, natural history, and so forth. The presidential addresses became a major venue for pronouncements on science from the self-proclaimed elite 'parliament of science'. Soon the BAAS came under the control of London elites although still purportedly a nationally decentralized organization. These elite men of science used the organization to promote their own version of science as safe, orthodox, religiously respectable, and politically dependable.

Further reading

British Association for the Advancement of Science website.

Morrell, Jack and Arnold Thackray. Gentlemen of science: early years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science Oxford, 1981.

Basalla, George, William Coleman, and Robert H. Kargon, eds. Victorian Science: A Self-portrait from the Presidential Addresses of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Garden City, N.Y., 1970.


Victorian Web Overview Victorian Science

Last modified 30 May 2002