Frederick Guthrie, founder and later president of the society
John Hall Gladstone, the first president of the society

The Physical Society of London, England, existed from 1874 to 1921. It was a scientific society and produced the Proceedings of the Physical Society of London. In 1921 the society became the Physical Society and in 1960 merged with the Institute of Physics (IOP), the combined organisation eventually adopting the name of the latter society.

The society was formed in 1874 due to the efforts of Professor Frederick Guthrie, Professor of Physics at the Royal College of Science, South Kensington, and his assistant, William Fletcher Barrett. They canvassed support for a 'Society for physical research' and on 14 February 1874, the Physical Society of London was formed with an initial membership of 29 people. The Society's first president was John Hall Gladstone.[1]

Meetings were held every two weeks, mainly at Imperial College London. From its beginning, the society held open meetings and demonstrations and published Proceedings of the Physical Society. The first Guthrie lecture, now known as the Faraday Medal and Prize, was delivered in 1914. In 1921 the society became the Physical Society and in 1932 absorbed the Optical Society (of London).

In 1960 the merger with the Institute of Physics took place, creating the Institute of Physics and the Physical Society, which combined the learned society tradition of the Physical Society with the professional body tradition of the Institute of Physics.[2] Upon being granted a royal charter in 1970, the organization renamed itself as the Institute of Physics.[3]

Presidents of the Physical Society


  1. ^ "The History of the Institute", History, Institute of Physics and IOP Publishing, 2009, retrieved 2009-08-25
  2. ^ Institute of Physics History
  3. ^ Royal Charter of the Institute of Physics
  • Information from NAHSTE (Navigational Aids for the History of Science Technology & the Environment).

Lewis, John J. (2003). The Physical Society and Institute of Physics 1874-2002. Institute of Physics Publishing. ISBN 0-7503-0879-6.

See also