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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

    The webinar will discuss the challenges and opportunities schemes face in evaluating end game options, choosing a target state and understanding the impact this strategic decision could have on member outcomes long after the “end state” is reached. Adolfo, Kevin and Rhian bring over 60 years of experience in the industry and a variety of perspectives as scheme actuary, covenant adviser, trustee, de-risking adviser and insurer.

  • Spaces available

    Retail banking is going through a period of substantial change as it moves into the digital age. Banks have large amounts of data about their customers and about their risks. Open data application programming interface (APIs) and data science are enabling banks to use their data to offer innovative and sometimes personalised services. Data science is also adding value in risk areas such as fraud detection and cyber security. At the same time, the move to online banking is making it easier for firms including fintechs to enter banking without having to establish branch networks.

  • UK Town Hall 08:30-09:30

    Webinar
    4 December 2020

    Spaces available

    IFoA President Tan Suee Chieh would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual UK Town Hall 2020, hosted by Tan Suee Chieh with IFoA’s Immediate Past President, John Taylor, President Elect, Louise Pryor and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann.  

  • UK Town Hall 10:00-11:00

    Webinar
    4 December 2020

    Spaces available

    IFoA President Tan Suee Chieh would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual UK Town Hall 2020, hosted by Tan Suee Chieh with IFoA’s Immediate Past President, John Taylor, President Elect, Louise Pryor and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann.  

  • 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

    Patrick Kennedy, Partner at Gateley Legal and Founding Director of Entrust (a leading professional pensions trustee company), will be delivering an update on the latest legal developments during the course of 2020. With both a pensions legal perspective and over 25 years of trustee service, Patrick will seek to highlight how the letter of the law has continued to evolve against the backdrop of a difficult and challenging year

  • 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. 

  • Spaces available

    Running off the £2 trillion of UK corporate sector defined benefit liabilities in an efficient and effective fashion is the biggest challenge facing the UK pensions industry. Trustees and sponsors overseeing those schemes need to be clear on their target end-state and the associated journey plan – but too few have well articulated and robust plans.

  • Spaces available

    The actuarial skill set has much to offer the banking industry. So many of the skills that actuaries acquire during their working life translate across to the world of banking and yet banking is perceived as an alien environment to many actuaries. But is it?

  • Spaces available

    Covid-19 has required an urgent and cross-practice initiative to facilitate the extensive impact this pandemic has across all industries. IFoA members have been keen to contribute in a different way, so we developed the IFoA Covid-19 Action Taskforce [ICAT] to coordinate our effort, with a more efficient governance.

    We have over 500 volunteers and countless topics which we have amalgamated into 93 workstreams.