You are here

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 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:

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.

Filter or search events

Start date
E.g., 24/09/2020
End date
E.g., 24/09/2020

Events calendar

  • Asia Conference Webinar Series

    7 September 2020 - 25 September 2020

    Spaces available

    There will be a prestigious line-up of international speakers discussing the insurance and financial industry’s innovation and change in Asia.  The conference will take place throughout September via an online platform. The webinars consist of plenary speaking sessions and a series of workshop sessions including Life, GI, Data Science, Sustainability, Risk Management and Investment.

    This will be the perfect opportunity for you to discover,ask questions and be at the forefront of current and developing actuarial/financial topics and trends in Asia.


  • Spaces available

    This free 90 minute webinar is designed to support the IFoA CPD Co-ordinators, and others, involved in supporting our members to achieve their CPD requirements. 

    The programme will include an overview of the new CPD Scheme; specifically sharing with you key messages to support you implement and embrace the new CPD Scheme for our members within your organisation and regional community; how to arrange a reflective practice discussion; and an interactive reflective practice discussion learning exercise.  In addition, delegates will gain information about accessing, and making the most of the IFoA event Toolkits which you can make use of to run your own in-house events and events for regional communities. 

  • Spaces available

    16.00-17.00 GMT+8

    Consumer expectations are changing Insurance. The Royal Commission in Australia, Design Obligations in the UK, the insurtech ecosystem, and digital-first consumers demanding personalised solutions will all revolutionise how insurance looks like in the future.

  • Spaces available

    12.00-13.00 GMT+8

    This presenter / panel workshop hybrid will be anchored by two presentations examining the socioeconomic, medical and technological factors that will have a significant impact on mortality and our pricing over the next 20 years and beyond. It will also discuss whether significant mortality improvement will continue in Asia or whether varying experience of low improvements or deterioration. 

  • Spaces available

    12.00-13.00 GMT+8

    This presentation aims to provides an overview of the reformation of current Chinese regulatory solvency regime, how industry coping with the new normal after pandemic time and how the reformation of the regulation could help the insurance industry gets back on its feet as well as coming back to the “protection” core value for the policyholders. The presentation would include:

  • Spaces available

    16.00-17.00 (GMT+8) | 09.00-10.00 (BST)

    The basic data of China’s 2nd Critical Illness Mortality Table covers 2000+ products in Chinese market, including about 340 million insurance policies and 5.1 million claimants. Presenter will give the audience a general understanding including but not limited to the following contents:

  • Autumn Lecture 2020: Professor Elroy Dimson

    Online webinar
    14 October 2020

    Spaces available

    Many individuals and institutions have a long-term focus, and invest funds for the benefit of future generations. Their strategy should reflect their long horizon. University endowments are one of the oldest classes of institutional investor, and I will present the first study of the management of these endowments over the very long term.

  • GIRO Conference 2020 Webinar Series

    Available to watch globally in November.
    02-13 November 2020
    Spaces available

    This year's GIRO has been re-designed as a virtual conference to offer members and non-members the opportunity to get up to date content from leading experts in the general insurance field via online webinars. All sessions will be recorded and made available to purchase and re-watch post-event on the IFoA's GI Online Learning Resource area.

  • Spaces available

    Cash-flow driven investing is a game-changer for DB pension funds navigating their end-game. Suitable for sponsors who want to reduce risks on their balance sheets. And for trustees, it shifts the focus to providing greater certainty of returns, managing funding level volatility and ensuring they have enough income to pay cash-flow requirements.

  • Spaces available

    The talk will provide an understanding of the priorities and relationships between deficit reduction contributions, in the context of wider scheme funding, and different types of value outflow from the employer based on the working party’s recently published report.