Actuarial heritage collections and history
The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries' special library collections and archives relate to the origins, creation and development of actuarial science and practice, a history of some 350 years. 2012 marked the 250th anniversary since the designation of the Actuary in modern insurance in 1762.
The special library collections developed from the donation of original texts on the formation of the Institute of Actuaries in 1848 and of the Faculty of Actuaries in Scotland in 1856. New acquisition of historic texts continues to this day. In 2006 the Institute of Actuaries acquired the Archive of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, established in 1762 and the first insurance office to operate on a scientific basis using actuarial mathematics and mortality analysis. The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries preserves the archives of the professional association work of the original Faculty and Institute and particularly welcomes researchers of these important resources exploring actuarial, demographic and insurance history.
The collections encompass themes of early insurance and pensions, demography (particularly mortality trends of populations), commercial arithmetic (application of compound interest in accumulating funds) and statistics and probability theory leading to calculations of life expectation and the business of offering life assurance and pensions based on 'actuarial' mathematics. Most texts held are in English but there are significant items for actuarial science from France, Germany and Holland. The collections hold much evidence from insurance offices of the work of 'actuaries' who emerged from the late eighteenth century, those in the nineteenth century forming the first professional bodies in the Institute of Actuaries and Faculty of Actuaries.
More information on the scope of the collections may be read in outlines about the respective libraries, explaining access to library holdings and to the Equitable archive:
- Maclaurin House Library: Antiquarian books of the original Faculty of Actuaries are now deposited with Edinburgh University Library's special collections
- Staple Inn Library: Special books and archives collection of the original Institute of Actuaries Library.
- Archive of the Equitable Life Assurance Society held at Staple Inn library and Guildhall Library, London.
For a combined catalogue of the special books and manuscripts (dating before 1901) in the Institute and Faculty collections and formal listing of the Equitable Life Assurance Society archives, please see 'Associated documents' (right).
Additionally, the original Faculty library's books and other items deposited at Edinburgh University Library may be searched on the University's Information Services online catalogue. (Search for shelfmark 'FaCT' to retrieve most items.