The Philosophical Society of Washington was founded on March 13, 1871. It was preceded by gatherings at the home of Joseph Henry, the great scientist whose discoveries laid the foundations for advances in magnetism and electromagnetism. Since 1887 it has met at the Cosmos Club, in whose founding the Philosophical members played a large part. In 1878, when the Cosmos was founded, there was fear that the Philosophical would start an alternative club, so all the present members of the Philosophical were invited to join as founding members of the Cosmos.
This 1881 volume demonstrates the extraordinary history of the Society. Noting that more than 200 consecutive meetings had been held, it includes an address by E.M. Gallaudet on deafness, by John Wesley Powell on the limits to the use of data, and no less than two addresses by Alexander Graham Bell. No other society in Washington has maintained such high standards for so many years. Its Friday night gatherings have survived the turbulence of war and depression and retain their relevance: the 2234th meeting in spring of 2014 presented the Nobel laureate Craig Mello.