Friday, April 20, 2007

History of the Philosophy Club

A while back I had started to look into the history of our Philosophy Club. After giving up on individuals memories I recently had a dig through the archives under Auchmuty Library. I didn't find much, as I suspect that there is more material relevant to this gathering dust in various parts of McMullin building, but I did manage to extract a few key facts.

Officially, the Philosophy Club was founded in early 1966. I don't know if this is older than the Engineering Fraternity, which claims to be the oldest social club on campus, without ever giving an actual foundation date. (I doubt any of their members/ex-members can remember that far back). But I think we can safely claim to be the oldest Academic club on campus, even if we don't pre-date Autonomy (1965) as I had previously speculated.

As for the Dialectic journal, I have yet to pin down a firm first issue date, but the 2nd volume was published in 1968, so I think it seems fair to assume that Volume 1 was created in 1967. The archive has Volume 2, Number 1 (Feb 1968), the archivists and myself would be very keen to track down anything earlier.

I have been investigating other clubs similar to our own via the web, and many seem to have only lasted a few years, with a high rate of attrition apparent in over the last 10 years or so. In light of this, the age of 41 is an impressive figure.

Sam Douglas.


MH said...

1966? I’ve only done a quick check, but that may make us the oldest academic philosophy club in Australia. With several notable universities appearing not to have philosophy clubs, the oldest I can find in the University of Sydney’s Russellian Society which was established in 1975.

On whether the Engineering fraternity is older, sources who were around in the early days have said to me that the Philosophy Club was one of the earliest clubs. It seems like the sort of institution that Godfrey would have been quick to establish on arrival, which makes it plausible. The question, which may go some way to resolving the issue, is whether the Faculty of Engineering was established before or after the Department of Philosophy? I’m not sure (and Samuel, you are in a prime position to find this out) but I think the Faculty was established after the Department, which would suggest that there is more likelihood of the Club being older since you need engineering students to form and engineering fraternity.

Samuel Douglas said...

I'll chase it up next week.

Editor said...

Engineering has been an integral part of higher education in Newcastle for almost its entire history, and the first Engineering graduates gained their degrees in 1953, some years before Autonomy.

None of the libraries associated with the university has ever seen fit to keep anything to do with the Frat, so I have hit a dead end there. However, due to Godfrey Tanner's involvement I would agree that they have been around in one form or other as long as we have, if not longer.

But as it stands I would agree that we are the oldest academic philosophy club in the country, almost certainly the oldest academic club of any kind on this campus and probably one of the oldest social clubs on campus.

Anonymous said...

And you are still on campus, mostly due to your members disinclination to get drunk, harass female staff and then start a fight with male staff and security personnel. It's no wonder so many new (male) students think the Frat is way more grouse than the Philosophy Club.

Samuel Douglas said...


In any case we should have a special celebration next year being our 42nd birthday.