The surviving minute books were presented to Clapham Library by Mrs. Gill of Weybridge in 1920 and subsequently passed to the Archives Department.
Administrative / biographical background:
In 1841 the Clapham Literacy and Scientific Society was formed to discuss 'subjects of general interest among the young men resident in the neighbourhood'. According to the rules, these subjects were to be connected with literature and science, and the meeting took the form of a paper followed by debate. In November, however, new rules were drawn up along the lines of those of the Microscopic Society of London and it was proposed to rename the Society the Clapham Athenaeum. The minutes record no vote on this, but it was clearly agreed, since the next entry is the objects and constitution of the Clapham Athenaeum.
The meetings of the new body followed the old pattern until December 1843, when an 'Attic Chest' was instituted. This was a box into which members put short written papers, anonymously if they wished, and certain meetings were devoted to the reading and discussion of several such papers.
In spite of lectures from notable figures such as Dr. Gideon Mantell, membership and attendance declined, and at a special meeting on 10 June 1868 there was a vote on the proposal to disband the Society. No record of an adjourned meeting in October has survived, but at a Council meeting on 2 November it was agreed to call a meeting to consider a proposal to discontinue the Society. This proposal must have been passed.