350th Anniversary of the Oldest Continuously Published Scholarly Journal


The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London celebrates its 350th anniversary on March 6, 2015. Published since 1665, not only is it the oldest scholarly journal in the Brown University Library’s collections, it is believed to be the oldest scholarly journal in continuous publication. The Library is pleased to own a complete run in the original paper edition and to offer the complete run electronically through JSTOR.

Members of the Brown community with web authorization can click here to view the earliest issues.

Brown Engineering Professor Peter D. Richardson, a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), writes, “In 1665 the first issue of Philosophical Transactions was edited by Henry Oldenberg FRS, and this is now the oldest scientific journal in continuous publication, with peer review a characteristic content control feature.”

According to Richardson, the Royal Society of London is the world’s oldest chartered national scientific academy in continuous existence, and has been at the forefront of enquiry and discovery since its foundation in 1660. The backbone of the Society is its Fellowship of the most eminent scientists of the day, elected by peer review for life and entitled to use FRS after their name. There are more than 80 Nobel Laureates among the Society’s Fellows and Foreign Members. In 1663, the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge was granted its arms and adopted the motto “Nullius in verba” (i.e. Take nobody’s word for it) as expression of its enduring commitment to empirical evidence as the basis of knowledge about the natural world.