Globular cluster NGC 5694 was cataloged by William Herschel as H II.196, following its discovery on May 22, 1784. As this object is one of the more remote globular clusters of the MIlky Way, Herschel did not resolve it but cataloged it as a "faint nebula," as can be seen by his classification as a "class II" object.
The object was first resolved and recognized as a globular cluster by C.O. Lampland and Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in 1932. Its integrated spectral type has once been given as A9, but is now estimated at F4. Its ten brightest stars were measured at about mag 16.5, and it is approaching us at about 144 km/s. At its distance of about 113,000 light-years, this cluster's apparent diameter of 3.6 minutes of arc corresponds to a linear extension of almost 120 light-years. Its apparent visual brightness of 10.17 mag corresponds to an absolute visual magnitude of -7.81, or an intrinsic luminosity of about 120,000 times that of our sun.
Burnham reports that to 1977, no variable stars had been detected in this remote globular.