I was lucky enough to be involved at a Library Day at the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne yesterday. Thanks to the good offices of the President Paul Gailiunas and the Librarian Kay Easson I was able to get access to the archives. Paul showed me this page from the minute book for February 1800 where a member seems to have tried to sketch the platypus newly arrived from Port Jackson. The specimen still seems to survive in the Hancock Museum, although the member didn’t seem to know what to call it at the time. Paul also showed me the newly rediscovered recommendation book, which suggests that the LPS committee was equally confused about its attitude to women. It appears that they had always been allowed as members – from the inception of the Society in 1793 – but the committee didn’t really want to encourage it despite the efforts of one member John Clennell. I’ll post a blog over at the Networks of Improvement blog on the exchanges between Clennell and the committee soon.
I should add that Paul, the President of the LPS, told me that when they received a wombat they didn’t know what to do with it, so it was stuffed standing on its hind legs