Scope and Contents
The Houston Philosophical Society Records consist of minutes from the Executive Committee and general meetings, notices to members, treasurer's reports and other financial records, rosters and directories, new member nominations, constitutions and procedure guidelines. There is one roll of microfilm minutes for 1964-May 1974. One binder belonging to President W. T. Cannady, 1998-99 is included. These documents are divided in to 7 series as identified below.
Until April 2000, the documents were filed by subject, i. e., Minutes, Notices, Treasurer's Report, etc. in chronological order. Beginning April 2000 the documents are kept together by meeting number and date. A new series was started at that point.
Permission to publish from the Houston Philosophical Society Records must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
The first meeting of the Houston Philosophical Society was held on January 18, 1920 at the University Club in downtown Houston. It was organized to bring together the intellectual community both on and off campus. Its purpose was to "stimulate interest in modern developments in science and philosophy." The word "philosophical" is used in its broadest sense and members of the society represent all departments of the arts, sciences, and letters.
At that first meeting Professor H. A. Wilson was elected as president, Professor G. C. Evans as secretary, and Mr. S. G. McCann (the registrar at Rice) as treasurer. Three additional members were elected to serve on the executive council: Professors C. W. Heaps, H. B. Weiser, and R. A. Tsanoff. The persons listed here, whose main work was respectively in physics, mathematics, history, chemistry, and philosophy, indicate the wide range of interests that has characterized the Society from the beginning.
The monthly meetings held during the academic year normally consist of a dinner, followed by a business session and then the address of the evening by either a member of the Society or an invited guest speaker. Time is reserved for questions or discussion after the address.
The members of the Society are elected based on their high intellectual and professional achievements. Originally an all male organization, in 1987 the bylaws were changed so that they did not imply that one had to be male to be a member. By the next year several women had been elected. Today the Society has no gender or racial restrictions and has a maximum membership of 240 members divided into eight sections as follows: Astronomy, Engineering, and MathematicsBiochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and PhysicsMedicineBusiness and EconomicsEducation, Health, and Physical Education, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, and Social ScienceHistory, Journalism, Language, Literature, and Library ScienceArchitecture, Fine Arts, Music, and TheaterGovernment and Law