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Historical collections

The libraries’ special collections relate to the origins, creation and development of actuarial science and practice and offer a rich resource for researchers of demographic, financial, and insurance history

The historical 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 relevant historic texts and manuscripts dating before 1860 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 scientific lines using actuarial mathematics and mortality analysis.

Subjects represented in the historical collections include:

  • early insurance and pensions
  • demography (particularly mortality trends of populations)
  • commercial arithmetic (application of compound interest in accumulating funds
  • statistics and probability theory leading to calculations of life expectation
  • the business of offering life assurance and pensions based on 'actuarial' mathematics. 

Most texts are in English but there are significant items for actuarial science from France, Germany and Holland. There is also 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, the Institute of Actuaries in 1848 and Faculty of Actuaries in 1856.

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) also preserves its own archives documenting the professional association work of the original Faculty and Institute since their foundation.

Access to the collection

The IFoA welcomes bona fide research requests to view items in the main special library collections of books, manuscripts and archives by appointment.

If you would like to view items in our collections please contact libraries@actuaries.org.uk. We may facilitate your visits to view items held by the organisations shown above by arrangement.

Please consult our combined catalogue listing of the Books, manuscripts and documents dating before 1901 in the libraries of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries arranged by author or lead title. In enquiries about items, please cite the RKN or library catalogue numbers of items of interest. Researchers may also now search our Library catalogue for pre-1901 items and 'request' to arrange to see items of interest at the IFoA Library by appointment.

There are document listings of the archives in the Equitable Life Assurance Society (ELAS) Archive 1762-1975 held by the IFoA and at Guildhall Library, London.

The historical collections are held in secure locations as outlined below:

Historical resource Location Catalogue access to holdings
Institute of Actuaries special historical collections
(books and manuscripts)
IFoA London (viewing by appointment)

Books, manuscripts and documents dating before 1901 in the libraries of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries

Library catalogue

Institute of Actuaries publications and profession records IFoA London Search Library catalogue (for Institute and Faculty publications)
IFoA Library searches database to identify and retrieve profession records upon enquiry.
Faculty of Actuaries special historical collection IFoA Edinburgh (viewing by appointment)

Books, manuscripts and documents dating before 1901 in the libraries of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries

Library catalogue

Faculty of Actuaries publications and profession records IFoA Edinburgh Search Library catalogue (for Institute and Faculty publications)
IFoA Library searches database to identify and retrieve profession records upon enquiry.
Equitable Life Assurance Society archive, (ca.1762-1833) IFoA London (viewing by appointment) Equitable Life Assurance Society (ELAS) Archive 1762-1975, IFoA, London
Equitable Life Assurance Society archive, (ca.1830-1950) London Guildhall Library
Apply to London Metropolitan Archives for access
Equitable Life Assurance Society (ELAS) Archive 1803-1976, Guildhall Library, London

Related documents

Contact Details

For any library enquiries please contact:

libraries@actuaries.org.uk

We try to respond to email queries within one working day. Researcher access to historical resources may require notice in advance of visit in order to retrieve items from storage.

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Events calendar

  • Spaces available

    Over recent months there has been a sharp rise in M&A activity involving British businesses, with interest from overseas, domestic buyers and Private Equity investors.  

  • Spaces available

    Frank Redington is recognised as one of the most influential actuaries of all time. In this talk, Craig will review some of Redington's most important ideas. He will identify the consistent actuarial principles that form a common thread across the contributions Redington made to a broad range of actuarial fields, and will highlight the ongoing relevance of Redington's thinking to 21st century actuarial practice.

  • Spaces available

    The IFoA Mental Health working party look back over their week of blogs and podcasts considering all aspects of the relationship between mental health and life insurance. The expert panel spans adviser, underwriter and actuarial experience and they  explore triggers for purchasing insurance relating to mental health, the various routes to insurance and how these may be more suited to different people depending on their conditions and preferences, the products and processes involved in purchasing these as well as what claims and support are available to policyholders and how to access them.

  • Spaces available

    Part of the 'Finance in the Public Interest 2022' webinar series. If it was ever okay to consider your business in isolation from its surroundings, today it most definitely is not. Thinking about business within its surrounding system is now a necessity. The question we seek to discuss is: How should we prescribe the boundaries in which we consider problems to enable us to create better products and more resilient companies and systems?

  • Spaces available

    What will happen to DC pension savers who see life annuities as poor VFM but still want an income for life?  Pooled annuity funds could offer them a decent lifetime income while reducing significantly the complex choices and risk inherent in income drawdown.  They could be the next generation of CDC pension schemes, slotting into the existing DC framework as a post-retirement option.