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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.

Filter or search events

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Events calendar

  • IFoA Joint Member Event with the Sunshine Insurance Group, Beijing China

    Room TBC, Kuntai International Plaza, No.12, Chaowai Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing 地址:会议室待定,北京市朝阳区朝外大街乙12号1号楼昆泰国际大厦
    12 December 2019

    Spaces available

    The IFoA’s President-elect Tan Suee Chieh will visit Beijing. We will co-host CPD and Awards Presenting event with the Sunshine Insurance Group on Thursday 12 December 2019. The event is part of Mr Tan’s first presidential trip to China.

  • ARC Sessional Research Event: Drivers of Mortality - Risk Factors and Inequality

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    6 January 2020

    Spaces available

    The authors will focus on a large dataset obtained from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) and related sources. Data are available at the level of Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) – small geographical areas with, typically, 1000-2000 residents and include death counts, exposures and a significant number of socio-economic variables including the index of multiple deprivation (IMD).

  • SIAS Event: My Journey to Data Science, Big Data and AI

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    7 January 2020

    Spaces available

    Patrick Lee is an actuary who has made the transition to working in software architecture and artificial intelligence (AI). He holds Microsoft Professional qualifications in Data Science, Big Data and AI and is currently working towards a DevOps (the automation of software testing and deployment) qualification. He is a member of the IFoA Council and is also President of the Wessex Actuarial Society. He is also a member of the IFoA and the RSS's joint Data Science Focus Group and will talk on the ethical use of AI. 

  • Spaces available

    This IFoA event for NEDs explores what skills and experience are required to undertake non-executive roles, e.g. as independent NEDs on fund boards or members of IGCs. The event will be chaired by Brandon Horwitz, an actuary who is a consultant and who has held various investment governance roles and who specialises in investment governance as well as being an iNED.

  • Spaces available

    This presentation covers the detail for how the matching adjustment is calculated. A small simple example spreadsheet is provided and discussed in detail.

    For actuaries wanting to get more involved with the matching adjustment, this is the opportunity to get a detailed description of the mechanics involved. This includes cashflows derisking, PRA tests as well as hypothecation.

    The presentation is provided by James Sharpe who has worked on a number of matching adjustment calculations with several firms.

  • IFoA Volunteer Recognition Reception

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

    Spaces available

    As a thank you to all our Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) volunteers, you are invited to join us at Staple Inn Hall, for an evening of drinks, canapes and networking, in London.

    IFoA President, John Taylor, will be attending and will make a speech

    If you support the IFoA as a volunteer (member or non-member), or in any other role, and you are going to be in London on 15 January, please book your place and join us at this reception.

     

  • Sessional Meeting - Operational Risk Dependencies

    Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 9 Queen St Edinburgh EH2 1JQ
    20 January 2020

    Spaces available

    The Operational Risk Working Party aims to assist actuaries and others in the modelling and management of operational risk. One of the key challenges in modelling operational risk is the modelling of dependencies between operational risks, and between operational and non-operational risks such as market, credit and insurance risk. Their paper seeks to assist in this regard, and help develop good practice in setting assumptions and modelling operational risk dependencies. 

  • KSS event in Glasgow: Public Sector Pensions

    Hymans Robertson, Glasgow 20 Waterloo St, Glasgow
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • KSS event in Stirling: Public Sector Pensions

    M&G Prudential, Stirling Craigforth Campus, Stirling
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • KSS event in Edinburgh: Public Sector Pensions

    Hymans Robertson 1, Exchange Place, Semple St, Edinburgh
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • The Great Risk Transfer – Breakfast briefing and launch event

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7QJ
    31 January 2020

    Spaces available

    Launch of the IFoA’s 2020 thought leadership campaign The Great Risk Transfer. The campaign will examine the trend of the transfer of risk from institutions to individuals, and how people can be better equipped to manage the financial risks they now face. At this breakfast event the IFoA will launch a call for evidence on this topic.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (11 February 2020)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ         
    11 February 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Sessional: Impact of E-cigarettes Working Party

    Royal College of Physicians, 9 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JQ
    24 February 2020

    Spaces available

    This sessional meeting will be of direct interest to actuaries and others working in the in the Health and Care, Life or Pensions sectors or indeed actuaries with an interest in morbidity or mortality. Note: Registration is from 17.30 in time for the sessional to begin at 18.00.

  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (25 February 2020)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    25 February 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Spring Lecture 2020, Edinburgh - Vicky Pryce

    Assembly Rooms, 54 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2LR
    25 March 2020

    Spaces available

    What next in Economic Policy?

    Please join us on 25 March 2020 for our annual Spring Lecture presented by Vicky Pryce in Edinburgh. 

  • IFoA Asia Conference 2020, Kuala Lumpur

    CCEC Nexus, 7, Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    24-25 June 2020
    Spaces available

    The sixth annual Asia Conference once again offers a prestigious line-up of home and international speakers discussing the insurance and financial industry’s innovation and change in Asia. This year's conference in Kuala Lumpur will be hosted by Tan Suee Chieh, IFoA’s first Asian President. He will also make his Presidential address at this conference and will expand on the important elements of IFoA’s new strategy. 

    Additionally, this landmark conference will showcase how the IFoA is reinventing itself to support its members to succeed and thrive in a digital age, within traditional businesses and beyond, as a global organisation. 

    Not to be missed by international industry players, opinion formers, academic and industry leaders, actuaries and non-actuaries.