Founded in 1879, it is the premier Island society with an Antiquarian interest. As Rex Kissack notes the emphasis of the Society has shifted from the Natural History of its founding days to the now dominant Historical interest - so much so he lightly suggests changing the name to the IoM History Society! This aspect is likely to continue as, following the cessation of the Journal of the Manx Museum, the Proceedings are the only outlet for such papers.
A factual account of the first 100 years of the Society can be found in the article by Mrs. C. E. Flanagan (Vol IX No.2 pp169/181), a more personal view of the first 50 years is given by P.M.C Kermode (Vol III No 4 p383/388) one of the founders of the Society and followed a few months later by his survey of the acomplishments of the first 50 years (Vol III No 3 p406/417). The reflexive Presidential Address of Rev Rex Kissack (Vol IX no 2 p239/249) entitled 'Antiquarian Tommorow' is very well worth study.
The single most important figure in the early history is P.M.C. Kermode, famous for his work on Manx Crosses, who gave more than 50 years service to the Society. As Prof Herdman expressed in his 1913 Presidential Address:
I must also be allowed to express publicly my thanks to my old friend a friendship of over 30 years' standing Mr. Philip Kermode, for his constant kindness in trying to facilitate my slight duties towards you, and in endeavouring to arrange dates for meetings at which it would be possible for me to attend. But, after all, we in this Society are all accustomed to see Mr. Kermode constantly making all necessary arrangements for our comfort, spending himself in the service of the Society. The impression left in the minds of most of us, I think, is that Kermode is the Society, and the best wish I can express for our future is' Long may he continue to be so.'
The seal of the Society, though now no longer used on its publications, honours him in its choice of the shell 'Nassa Kermodei' as the centre piece.
It is possible that an earlier society using the same name existed - I have a cutting, dated 10 Oct 1868 (in pencil) apparently from IoM Times headlined Natural History and Antiquarian Society and concerned with a visit to Laxey. The names associated are Dr McBurney who emigrated to Australia in 1870.
The publication history of the early Proceedings is somewhat complicated. The dates given are either from my personal archive or those quoted by Kermode for the early issues.
A magazine was published 1888-1892 (effectively ceasing with YLM Vol 1 No 11).
(originally 'Vannin Lior' title changed from Vol 1 No. 2)
A portion of the back transactions of the Society (starting from 1880) were bound up with the magazine No's 1 through 11 but with different page sequence which also contained 'The Proceedings and Transactions'.
Each volume contains 4 numbers generally issued every 2 years. Vol II was however disrupted by the war.