The members of the Leopoldina are organized in 28 sections that are grouped in four classes.
On 1 January 1652 four physicians − Johann Lorenz Bausch, Johann Michael Fehr, Georg Balthasar Metzger and Georg Balthasar Wohlfahrth − established the Academia Naturae Curiosorum in the Free Imperial City of Schweinfurt. It is now the oldest continuously existing academy of medicine and the natural sciences in the world. The four physicians invited leading scholars of their day to join them in “exploring nature [...] for the glory of God and the good of mankind.” The motto they selected for this ambitious objective was Nunquam otiosus (“never idle”).
City physician Johann Laurentius Bausch (1605-1665) became the Academy’s first President. Over the following years he was joined by members from other cities in Germany. The members realised that in order to draft a proposed encyclopaedia they would have to gather existing knowledge and subject it to discussion. To this end, in 1670 Sachs Lewenhaimb, a physician in Breslau (Wrocław), initiated the world’s first journal of natural science and medicine, Miscellanea Curiosa Medico-Physica Academiae Naturae Curiosorum, which is still in print today.
Soon after being established the Academy started to seek public recognition. It gained this in August 1677, when it was granted official approval by Emperor Leopold I. Ten years later Leopold awarded the Academy special privileges, guaranteeing its independence from the various ruling dynasties in the region and providing complete freedom from censorship for all its publications. Since that time the Academy has been called Sacri Romani Imperii Academia Caesareo-Leopoldina Naturae Curiosorum − or the Leopoldina for short. The emperors Charles VI and Charles VII confirmed and extended the Academy’s privileges. Continue