Journals, learned societies and money: Philosophical Transactions ca. 1750–1900

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This paper investigates the finances of the Royal Society and its Philosophical Transactions, showing that in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries journal publishing was a drain on funds rather than a source of income. Even without any expectation of profit, the costs of producing Transactions nevertheless had to be covered, and the way in which this was done reflected the changing financial situation of the Society. An examination of the Society’s financial accounts and minute books reveals the tensions between the Society’s desire to promote the widespread communication of natural knowledge, and the ever-increasing cost of doing so, particularly by the late nineteenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-299
JournalNotes and Records of the Royal Society
Issue number3
Early online date15 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2015


  • Royal Society
  • Publishing
  • Journal profits
  • Learned societies
  • Science journals
  • History of science
  • Economic history


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