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Middletown Scientific Association records

Identifier: 1000-160

Scope and Contents

Collection contains the records of the Middletown Scientific Association, spanning the years 1871 to 1976. These records document the proceedings of meetings from the association's founding in 1871 until its cessation in 1968, the administration of the association, and its association with the town of Middletown and Wesleyan University. Included are minutes, meeting announcements, treasury and presidents' reports, clippings, a scrapbook, and other historical materials. Of note are the announcements and clippings regarding talks given to the association by prominent scientists such as Italian physicist and Nobel Prize winner Enrico Fermi in 1940, and the association's resolutions on matters effecting the scientific community at large.


  • Creation: 1871-1976


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

University records - Copyright held by Wesleyan University; all other copyright is retained by the creator - In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted

Some material is in public domain - No Copyright - United States

Biographical / Historical

The Middletown Scientific Association was founded on March 17, 1871 by Wesleyan University faculty and residents of Middletown, Connecticut. Its purpose was to encourage scientific investigation and curiosity among members and to receive papers from members and other scientists regarding popular topics in all fields of science, history of science, and education of science. The association was one of the very first "town and gown" organizations at Wesleyan University. Founding members included John Johnston, E. P. Barrows, Frederic Gardiner, R. G. Pike, H. D. A. Ward, J. M. Van Vleck, J. C. Van Benschoten, W. N. Rice, C. T. Winchester, G. Browne Good, Noah Cressy, E. B. Nye, G. W. Burke, W. W. Coe, H. E. Sawyer, J. H. Emerson, F. D. Edgerton, J. P. Taylor, S. W. Noyes, F. H. Newhall, C. S. Harrington, Joseph Cummings, A. M. Shew, and A. W. Hazen. Members of the association, in addition to Wesleyan faculty, included physicians, ministers, and teachers. Women were admitted into membership beginning in 1880.

Regular meetings were often held in the Hall Laboratory of Chemistry, Scott Laboratory of Physics, and Shanklin Laboratory of Biology at Wesleyan University. Occasional field meetings were held, during which members would learn first-hand about botany, geology, and other topics of natural history. Early in the association's history, papers were given at regular meetings on a variety of scientific topics in all fields, usually by members of the association, and occasionally by outside scientific experts. As membership grew, lecturers were more frequently invited from abroad to speak to the association.

The Middletown Scientific Association disbanded in 1968, after attendance at regular meetings was limited to those members who had been invited to dinner to meet with the lecturer. Though membership numbers and satisfaction with the organization remained high, there appeared to be a consensus among members that individuals were "too busy" to attend. The final meeting was held on April 8, 1968.


2 Linear Feet (3 hollinger boxes and 1 scrapbook box)

Language of Materials



The Middletown Scientific Association records include minutes, reports, a scrapbook, administrative records, and other historical materials which document the organization's operations from 1871 until it disbanded in 1968.


Materials are organized into three series: Meeting records, Administrative materials, and Historical materials.

Middletown Scientific Association records, 1871-1976
Processed by Andrea Benefiel, September, 2008 Encoded by Andrea Benefiel, September, 2008
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & Archives Repository

252 Church Street
Middletown CT 06459 USA