Catalogue ReferenceD/EX1432
TitleRecords of the Reading Literary and Scientific Society.
RepositoryBerkshire Record Office (code: GB 005)
Extent15 vols, 4 bdls, 7 docs
Admin HistoryThe Society was founded in January 1878 as the Redlands Literary and Scientific Society. The initial meeting was held at the Unitarian Free Church, London Road, Reading, with which it may originally have been connected. The object as the promotion of 'literary and scientific culture' by means of a programme of lectures, classes, and discussions, and the circulation of books. Meetings were held fortnightly at the Lodge Hotel. Lectures included social and political issues such as women's rights, capital punishment, vivisection, cremation and (in 1879) the then contemporary war in Afghanistan, as well as more conventional topics on science, history, archaeology and architecture. In 1879, one lecturer advocated the establishment of a republic.

In October 1880 the Society's name was changed to the Reading Literary and Scientific Society, and subjects were restricted by the new constitution to the non-political and non-religious, though in 1900 the lectures included one on the housing problem. The principal work of the Society was henceforth concentrated on the fortnightly lectures, which continued to be held at the Lodge Hotel until 1891. From 1886, the lectures were supplemented, particularly in the summer months, by excursions to places of interest, including local archaeological sites, the British Museum, Reading workhouse (in 1894), and the telephone exchange (1894).

Meeting were held at the Abbey Hall, Kings Road, 1891-1903; the Lodge Room of the Palmer Memorial Institute, West Street, 1903-1905; the YMCA lecture hall, Friar Street, 1905-1908; 9 Duke Street, 1908-1911; the Denmark Hall, 1911-1912; and various rooms (usually the History Room) at University College, Reading [now Reading University], from October 1912.

One lecture in 1900, on the fin du si├Ęcle in France, had been delivered in French, and in 1922 a 'French section' was formed to hold classes and lectures in that language.

The 1920s saw a decline in attendance and interest among members, and the Society was forced to dissolve in 1929.
AcquisitionTransferred in January 1997 (acc. 5951); deposited in May 2001 (acc. 6749)

Schedule of accessions
Acc. 5951: 1/1-8; 2/1; 3/1-4; 4/1-2; 5/1-3
Acc. 6759: 3/5-9; 4/3-5
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