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Highlight historical books and manuscripts

A selection of highlight books and manuscripts held by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) in its special historical collections

Please consult Books, Manuscripts and Documents Dating Before 1901 in the Libraries of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries for a full catalogue listing of our holdings that is updated annually with additions to the collection.

Manuscripts 

Frederick Hendriks' 'Research notes relating to the discovery in 1851 of Johan De Witt's treatise on life annuities, 1671' contains autograph letters with European politicians and documents, translations from the Dutch, that led to his articles 'Contributions to the history of insurance, and the theory of life contingencies', Journal of the Institute of Actuaries I and II (1851, 1852). 

Original works of Thomas Bayes, James Dodson, Richard Price and William Morgan feature in the Archive of the Equitable Life Assurance Society acquired by the UK actuarial profession in 2006. There are holdings of examples of early mathematical practitioners considering compound interest in the accumulation of funds, and commutation tables calculated by actuaries investigating company mortality data. 

Separately the library has obtained small sets of letters by Richard Price concerning actuarial questions ca. 1778 and by Benjamin Gompertz who in the 1820s first explored a common law of the force or intensity of mortality over the course of life.

Mathematics 

Coverage includes works of probability and logarithm tables, from the 17th to 19th centuries. These are some of the rarest books in the Library and are items cited in English Short Title Catalogue bibliographies: 

  • Ian Trenchant, L'Arithmetique (1558)
  • Ludolph Van Ceulen, Van den Circkel (1596) on compound interest
  • John Napier, Mirifici logarithmorum canonis descriptio (1614); Mirifici logarithmorum canonis constructio (1620); Rabdologiae, seu numerationis per virgulas libri duo (1617) on logarithms
  • Pierre-Rémond de Montmort, Essay d'analyse sur les jeux de hasard (1708; and 1713 editions)
  • Nicolaas Struyck, Uytreekening der kanssen in het speelen, door de arithmetica en algebra, beneevens een vehandeling van looteryen en interest... [1716]
  • Abraham De Moivre, The Doctrine of Chances (1718, 1738 and 1756 editions)
  • Thomas Bayes, Notebook c.1747-1761
  • Charles Babbage, Specimen of logarithm tables printed with different coloured inks on variously coloured papers (1831) has a manuscript note 'only 1 copy having been printed' and a letter presentation to W. Streatfield'.

Mortality analysis 

  • John Graunt, Natural and political observations mentioned in a following index and made upon the Bills of Mortality (1662, and editions of 1665, and posthumously 1676). This is considered a breakthrough in statistical history for signalling how parish record data might be used to estimate population size (and men able to bear arms) and survival to age bands
  • Company of Parish Clerks of London, London's dreadful visitation. Or, A Collection of all the Bills of Mortality for the present year... (1665) at the time of the Great Plague
  • John Smart, 'An account of the number of persons dying at the several ages under mencioned [sic] as published by the Company of Parish Clerks, in the Yearly Bills of Mortality…’ [years 1728-1741] was appended in 1738 to Smart’s earlier work, Tables of interest, discount, annuities &c. 2nd ed., 1726. Smart was first to analyse the London Bills of Mortality after age of death began to be recorded from 1728; he presented his findings through the Royal Society in a letter ‘shewing the probabilities of life in order to estimate annuities &c.’ in 1738. Further analysis has been added by another for the years 1742-1771
  • Corbyn Morris, Observations on the past growth and the present state of the City of London (1751) was the work on the London Bills of Mortality that informed James Dodson as he first outlined how premiums could be set according to age commercial life assurance based on actuarial mathematics
  • Nicolaas Struyck, Inleiding tot de de algemeene geographie beneevens eenige sterrekundige en andere verhandelingen (1740) contains 'Appendix to the conjectures on the state of the human race and the calculation of annuities' (in Dutch) in which he first discerned from Holland's state tontine registers that male and female mortality (and life expectancy) could be separately observed 
  • Antoine Deparcieux, Essai sur les probabilités de la durée de la vie humaine; d'où l'on déduit la manière de déterminer les Rentes Viagères, tant simples qu'en tontines: précédé d'une courte Explication sur les Rentes à Terme, ou Annuités; et accompagné d'un grand nombre de Tables. Paris: Guérin, 1746. ‘Géometre’ Deparcieux analysed the mortality experience from tontine registers and that of nuns of convents, his tables becoming much relied upon for appraisal of financial schemes contingent on life in Europe.

Theory and practice of life assurance and annuities 

  • Abraham De Moivre, Annuities upon lives (1725) - arguably a first textbook on actuarial questions 
  • Alexander Webster, Robert Wallace, Colin Mclarin, Calculations with the principles and data on whcih they are instituted: relative to a late Act of Parliament entitled, an Act for raising and establishing a Fund for the provision for the widows and children of the ministers of the Church and of the heads, principals and masters of the universities of Scotland (1748)
  • Richard Price, Observations on reversionary payments, 1st ed. (1771) and later editions
  • Charles Babbage, A comparative view of the various institutions for the assurance of lives (1826).

Non-life insurance 

  • Corbyn Morris, An essay towards the Science of Insurance ... (1747) applied binomial theorem to assess matters of marine insurance.

Insurance prospectuses and promotional leaflets

This collection is said to have started with the gift from the Clerical, Medical and General Assurance Society of a bound volume of various companies' prospectuses (with reports to policyholders and specimen policy conditions) trawled from the period 1832-1851. Another set is in three volumes bound by the Colonial Life Assurance Company in 1846 covering English, Irish, Scottish and foreign offices. Also, there is a volume of statutes of French and German insurance companies of the 1850s.

Pamphlets have been bound in a series of 'Tracts' covering mainly nineteenth-century papers on life assurance, statistics, friendly societies, mortality rates with some Dutch, French and German insurance literature. They include a collection bought in 1880 from Cornelius Walford (1827-1885), author of The Insurance Cyclopaedia ... (volumes I-V: Aba - Han) (1871-1880). Some 'Tracts' pamphlets listed in 1907 have been later disbound but all are traceable using the Library database catalogue.

Newmarch collection 

The Royal Statistical Society has deposited six volumes of pamphlets - mainly on life assurance bequeathed by William Newmarch F.R.S.S. (1820-1882), Manager of Glyn Mills and Company Bank - with the Institute Library upon permanent loan.

Journals and periodicals 

The London library holds several current journals of American and European actuarial associations. Its historical holdings include Post Magazine (weekly news on the insurance industry) from 1849 onwards and Transactions of the International Congress of Actuaries from 1895.

Faculty of Actuaries Collection (Edinburgh University Library)

Some 1500 catalogued items of the former Faculty's historical collections are deposited at Edinburgh University Library. Significant among these are sets of 19th century prospectuses of life asssurance societies originating in Scotland, and original early 17th centrury publications of John Napier on logarithms.

Equitable Life Archive 

The Institute and Faculty acquired the Archive of the Equitable Life Assurance Society dating from 1762 to 1950 and associated historical research in 2006. The Society was the first to practise actuarial science in insurance and the Archive takes a special place in the profession's heritage.

Archive of the IFoA

Since it began, originally by the foundation of the Institute of Actuaries in 1848 (Royal Charter, 1884) and then of the Faculty of Actuaries in 1856 (Royal Charter, 1868), the UK actuarial profession has fostered production of education textbooks for student actuaries and technical papers dedicated to its subject field through the Journal of the Institute of Actuaries (1951-1994) and Transactions of the Faculty of Actuaries (1901-1994) - now the British Actuarial Journal since 1995. The achievements of leading figures and professional committees in contributing to legislation with appropriate public interest roles for actuaries can be traced through the respective Yearbooks and Members Handbooks of the two organisations. 

London and Edinburgh offices retain series of former Faculty and Institute council and committee and general meeting minute books.

The Libraries also have albums of photographs of actuaries since 1848 with their insurance company associations. 

In 2010, the memberships of the two bodies voted for merger becoming the IFoA.

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

  • IFoA & PRI Webinar: TCFD – leaders and challenges

    Online webinar
    2 September 2019

    Spaces available

    In collaboration with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, the Principles of Responsible Investment is delighted to host this webinar discussing the response to the TCFD’s recommendations two years on from their publication. The webinar will feature new analysis of the 591 investors representing $45 trillion who responded to PRI’s 2019 climate indicators, insights from the past Chair of the IFoA’s Resource and Environment Board as well as an investor case study of implementation in practice from Aviva. 

  • SIAS Event: Climate Zero to Climate Hero

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    3 September 2019

    Spaces available

    An introductory session to help you get ahead with climate change.

    • Science, terminology and initiatives: handy facts to keep in your back pocket 
    • Getting your point across: how to influence people and avoid common traps and pitfalls
    • Taking action: what are actuaries expected to do...and what are we actually doing?
  • KSS event – The Regulatory Perspective

    Deloitte Saltire Court 20 Castle Terrace Edinburgh EH1 2EG
    5 September 2019

    Spaces available

    This KSS talk, presented by the FCA Head of Department in Scotland, will focus on the following 3 main areas:

    • FCA business plan priorities
    • The future of regulation
    • FCA Engagement in Scotland
  • Professional Skills Training session (Jointly held with China Life)

    China Life Insurance, Beijing •  China Life Shanghai Office • China Life Shenzhen Office  
    6 September 2019

    Spaces available

    Friday, 6 September, Beijing Local Time (CST) 14.00-16.30; British Summer Time (BST) 07.00-9.30

    The IFoA Beijing Office and China Life are pleased to be co-hosting a Professional Skills Training (PST) session in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen on Friday, 6 September. Wen Li (FIA), the IFoA Lead Representative in China and East Asia, will lead the PST presentation and discussion on ‘Getting it right!’.

    The main venue will be in Beijing. Members in Shanghai and Shenzhen can join the interaction with Beijing via video conference at China Life’s regional venues. (see full details below)

  • GIRO Conference 2019

    EICC, The Exchange, 150 Morrison St, Edinburgh EH3 8EE
    24-26 September 2019
    Spaces available

    GIRO is attended annually by over 800 delegates and speakers who are keen to discuss key topics such as Pricing, Reserving, Modelling and the future of the insurance industry. GIRO 2018 was a huge success and we have opened bookings early for what we hope will be another brilliant conference at the EICC in Edinburgh this year. 

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  • Chief Actuaries and Senior Life Actuaries Workshop 2019

    Staple Inn Hall High Holborn London WC1V 7QJ
    2 October 2019

    Spaces available

    This workshop, now in its sixth year, is aimed at senior actuaries working in life insurance - predominantly Chief Actuaries, but also Reviewing Actuaries and others working in risk and financial reporting. It will provide seven hours of relevant CPD.

  • The Future of the Actuarial Profession

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7QJ
    3 October 2019

    Fully booked.

     

    Three actuaries – and CEOs – discuss their views on how the business world is changing and what that might mean for actuaries in the future.

  • Spaces available

    Have you ever thought about working in wider fields? Would you like to play a role in the fight against climate change to make the planet better? 

    It can be difficult to do this - but seeing an example you can follow can make it more realistic. In this ‘green’ case study a template is outlined to show how actuaries can apply their skills more broadly - and in doing so, to make a difference.

  • RSS/IFoA Data Science Ethics: the role of practitioners

    Royal Statistical Society, 12 Errol St, London EC1Y 8LX
    7 October 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and the Royal Statistical Society have worked together to develop joint ethics guidance on data science. This is the culmination of an 18 month programme of practitioner led work. 
     
    Join us for the launch of this new guidance, with a high-level panel discussion which will explore the role of data science practitioners and professional bodies in data ethics. 

  • Sessional Meeting - Autonomous Vehicles and impacts on the wider insurance industry

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ         
    28 October 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries is running a sessional meeting on autonomous vehicles on 28th October.  The session will showcase the work of the IFoA “Autonomous Vehicles” working party alongside a number of expert external presenters. 

  • ARC Event: Beyond Proportional Hazards

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    30 October 2019

    Spaces available

    ARC Event: Beyond Proportional Hazards: Statistical methods for assessment of the impact of medical advances and health interventions on longevity and population projections.

    This workshop is being delivered by the Actuarial Research Centre’s (ARC) ‘Big Health and Actuarial Data’ Research Programme.

  • Hot Topics in Health and Care: Networking and Drinks

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, London WC1V 6DR
    4 November 2019

    Spaces available

    This evening will feature two new cases studies that highlight the implications for insurers of issues impacting on health and mortality for life, pensions, and health and care products; Impactability modelling: a worked example in Type II diabetes presented by Josephine Robertson, and Seasonal Mortality in England and Wales 1993-2016 presented by Mary Hall, Dublin City University.

  • Autumn Pension Seminar

    Grand Connaught Rooms, 61-65 Great Queen St, Holborn, London WC2B 5DA
    13 November 2019

    Spaces available

    Join us for this brand new seminar that brings together our Current Issues in Pensions, Pensions and the Law, and Investment for Pension Actuaries events. The seminar builds on the IFoA’s Annual Pension Conference with sessions covering CDC, TPR’s code of practice, investments, legal updates and Professional Skills Training with a focus on interactive discussion throughout.

    • KSS event: How is Scotland’s population changing and what are the implications?

      Barnett Waddingham, 163 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 2JJ
      14 November 2019

      Spaces available

      The National Records of Scotland (NRS) collects, preserves and produces information about Scotland's people and history to inform current and future generations - work that underpins the fabric of Scottish society and tells the story of our nation. This KSS talk will explore the following and other areas impacting Scotland’s changing population, and assess the potential implications of the changes:

      • population statistics
      • life expectancy
      • changes in age structure
      • birth and death rates, including causes of death statistics.
    • Life Conference 2019

      The Convention Centre Dublin, Spencer Dock, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1
      20-22 November 2019
      Spaces available

      The Life Conference is the premier event for professionals interested in life insurance.  Offering a wide range of workshops and plenary sessions it’s the perfect opportunity to discover what’s hot and current in life insurance ensuring you get up to date on the latest thinking and innovation whilst meeting and exchanging ideas with a broad range of professionals.

    • Autumn Lecture 2019, London - Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP

      Lincoln's Inn The Treasury Office, London WC2A 3TL
      2 December 2019

      Fully booked.

      The IFoA is pleased to announce that this year’s Autumn Lecture will feature the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP as its guest speaker.  Nicky has previously served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Women. She now chairs the Treasury Select Committee whose remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of HM Treasury, along with all of its agencies and associated bodies.

    • Autumn Lecture 2019: Live Streaming

      Webinar 
      2 December 2019

      Spaces available

      Watch the live stream of this year's Autumn Lecture with guest speaker Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP. 

    • Behavioural Finance Research Launch- 14 January 2020

      Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 6DR
      14 January 2020

      Spaces available

      We are delighted to announce the launch of the findings from our ARC funded Behavioural Finance research with a special evening event at Staple Inn on Tuesday14th January 2020. Entitled Behavioural Aspects of Institutional Investment Decision-Making, this research programme is being delivered by City, University of London, Leeds University Business School and Ipsos.