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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

  • TIGI 2020 (Technical Issues in General Insurance)

    Webinar Series
    22 June 2020 - 7 July 2020

    Spaces available

    Technical Issues in General Insurance provides content across all key areas of the general insurance sector whilst also offering cross-practice area technical topic deep-dives.

  • Spaces available

    Technical Issues in General Insurance

    Across the General Insurance market actuarial pricing tools are being migrated from Excel to web-based technologies. Web based pricing technology offers many synergies with AI and Machine Learning. But they are often hampered by poor design and practically always perform worse than their Excel counterparts!

    The following will be presented: 

  • Spaces available

    Offering insight on the 'New Normal', this webinar shares how the arsenal of weaponry at the disposal of ethical hackers is being deployed by those intent on breaching organisational security. The webinar is for all employees that would like a cyber context of what defines the “New Normal” and how it exposes an organisation.

  • Spaces available

    In this talk we cover the practicalities of implementing ESG within real asset investment decisions. Capital deployed in real assets is invested for a long term and has far reaching impact on the environment and society.  However, implementing ESG into real asset investment decisions is not straightforward and requires a different approach to public market assets.

  • Spaces available

    A practical and theoretical look at risk from wider perspectives, drawing on theories and examples from other fields, as well as social experiments, the session aims to stimulate members to consider information asymmetry, bias, Bayesian methods, behavioural finance and behavioural psychology when determining pension scheme risk. 

  • Spaces available

    Part of the Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020 webinar series

    This webinar will provide an overview of how and why we built a Death Toolbox using Shiny.  This includes a live demonstration of the tool that enables a user to explore mortality datasets without knowing specialist coding techniques.

  • Spaces available

    Technical Issues in General Insurance webinar series. Lloyd’s will be presenting on the recent Casualty Market Study that was conducted across a section of the market. This study looked at the Non-Marine General Liability, Directors & Officers and Medical Malpractice from an underwriting, reserving and claims perspective. The presentation will cover the reasons for why the Study was conducted, the approach taken to determine the focus classes and participants, the key general findings as well as the next steps that Lloyd’s are proposing to take.

  • Spaces available

    An update from the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI). Content will focus on the work of the Self-administered Pensions Schemes (SAPS) Mortality Committee and the Mortality Projections Committee and will cover the most relevant and up-to-date outputs.

  • Spaces available

    The PPF’s Purple Book provides the most comprehensive data on the UK universe of Defined Benefit (DB) pension schemes in the private sector.  Analysing how this landscape has changed over time shows that whilst the risk profile of DB schemes has reduced underfunding has persisted.  The session will explore these trends and provide an insight into how funding may evolve in the future under a number of our modelled scenarios.   

  • Spaces available

    The IFoA is running a webinar on Thursday 9 July 2020 which will focus on the challenges and issues facing defined contribution savers who wish to access illiquid investments.

    Our speakers will provide perspectives from their diverse experience, including DC fund implementation, platforms, master trusts, the role of trustees, regulation, and parallels with other fund types. They will then come together in a panel discussion with audience interaction. 

    The webinar is likely to be of interest to actuaries working across the spectrum of financial services, including investment advisers, asset managers, insurers, fund platforms and DC master trusts.

  • Spaces available

    An online webinar delivered by John Taylor, immediate past-President of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries who will look at the prospects for the actuarial profession in the era of unprecedented technological innovation.

  • Spaces available

    In this webinar you will hear first-hand from two lead authors; Louise Pryor - President Elect of the IFoA, Chair of the London Climate Change Partnership and Non-Executive Director of the Ecology Building Society. Paul Pritchard – Former IEMA Board Member with a focus on financial services and value chains. Paul also served as a Fellow at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. This webinar will provide key insights for all professionals interested in understanding and engaging with climate related financial disclosures.

  • Spaces available

    This webinar is intended to raise awareness of the shifting landscape of climate liability risk and what it means for actuaries, including how it impacts on their professional and legal duties. Presentations will cover the legal risks around climate change for investment consultants and actuaries advising DB pension schemes as well as consideration of climate risk for insurers.

  • Spaces available

    Climate change risks are likely to become material for many risk management and investment decisions. This will require to incorporate explicitly climate change in the tools used for risk management and investment decisions. At present existing climate change tools are often too crude for decision making.

  • Current Issues in Life Assurance (CILA) Webinar series

    Webinar Series
    15 July 2020 - 3 August 2020

    Spaces available

    CILA is one of the pre-eminent events in the annual 'Life' calendar. Due to COVID-19 we are running the programme as a series of webinars covering topics aimed at practicing life actuaries from life offices, consulting firms and other employers of actuaries and those who work in or advise on, the life assurance market in the UK and Europe.

  • Spaces available

    Current Issues in Life Assurance

    For annuity writers, a key challenge is the need to fund capital-consumptive new business strain (NBS) as a consequence of writing the business intended to fund future distributions.

    Reinsurance, investment strategy and capital provision all have roles to play. Here, we:

  • Spaces available

    Current Issues in Life Assurance

    Mortality in 2020 is now dominated by one thing, although – in our future-focused world – the pandemic is just one of many mortality considerations.  In this session, three well-regarded mortality/longevity specialists provide an overview of:

  • Spaces available

    Because of Covid-19, forecasters predict a severe recession in 2020, followed by a V or U-shaped recovery. This impacts both individuals and companies. However, compared to previous recessions, the impact on banks of higher credit losses should be mitigated to some extent by government actions. 

  • Spaces available

    Part of the Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020 webinar series

    This session will provide an overview of the Population Health Management Working Party's research including defining impactability and impactability modelling, discussing some examples of specific modelling approaches, considering the practical challenges across the NHS as well as wider public perception and ethical issues.

  • Spaces available

    Many actuaries consider career opportunities in the Finance and Investment practice area after having started off in more traditional actuarial roles such as valuations, capital management or pricing. This session is aimed at helping actuaries to better understand roles in Finance and Investment and how they can fine tune their skills to pursue such careers.

  • Mortality and Longevity Webinar Series 2020

    Webinar Series
    22 July 2020 - 10 August 2020

    Spaces available

    Due to COVID-19, we are running this programme via a series of webinars commencing 22nd July.

    This webinar series will provide topical and practical updates and discussion on the latest thinking and innovations in mortality and longevity, and is designed to be very accessible to a broad range of experience.

     

  • Spaces available

    Predictive risk assessment and risk stratification models based on postcode-level consumer classification are widely used for life insurance underwriting. However, these are socio-economic models not directly related to health information. Similar to precision medicine, precision life insurance should aim to tailor policy pricing/reserving to the individual health characteristics of each client.

  • Spaces available

    This webinar has been re-scheduled from its original date of the 1st July. Although ESG has many buyers across the asset allocation community, from pension funds to sovereign wealth funds, it still hasn’t found its place within the core asset management strategy desks where the money is actually invested. The problem as well as the opportunity is Fixed Income. Plenty of strategies exist for incorporating ESG within Equities, from screening, integration to a combination. ESG has picked up relatively quickly within Equities with rating,indices created using ESG factors. This talk will discuss how we price a quantifiable ESG credit risk premium and make it alpha worthy in a strategy. 

  • Spaces available

    Part of the Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020 webinar series

    With the rising prevalence of dementia, how can we manage this risk effectively and can insurance do more? Matt Singleton, Ageing Lead at Swiss Re, will cover these topics and demonstrate how insurance could help people address their concerns.

  • Spaces available

    Current Issues in Life Assurance

    This talk will look at a range of such techniques (e.g. mass lapse risk transfer, contract boundaries, risk margin relief, non-standard longevity risk transfer) that have been applied or considered by UK and EU insurers, and the pros and cons of each.

     

  • Spaces available

    Current Issues in Life Assurance.

    The International Association of Insurance Supervisors announced on 14 November 2019 the adoption of v2.0 of the global Insurance Capital Standard (ICS) which will undergo confidential reporting for 5 years starting from 2020. This session will include specific experiences from Legal and General (L&G) as well as global industry perspectives from EY.

  • Spaces available

    Current Issues in Life Assurance

    This session will cover the PRA supervisory statement on financial impacts related to climate change, industry insights into PRA climate risk business plans, examples climate risk strategy setting out key workstreams and activity steps for successful execution, an overview of a climate risk strategy execution timeline and the future.     

  • Spaces available

    Part of the Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020 webinar series. Using new and unique research and data from the UK, US, Sweden and China, this presentation investigates how consumers use the internet through their insurance journey and analyzes the role culture and generation plays in their online behaviour. We use this research to show the online landscape for insurance sales in the UK and suggest ways to shape new products and effectively engage with the consumer who is buying them.

  • Spaces available

    Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Gen Re Life/Health Research and Development, Dr John O'Brien, will discuss the impacts of Gene Modification for life/health insurance. 

  • Spaces available

    As an industry, it has been important to be able to look to the future to identify the next quantifiable risk. In this session, I will explore some of the less tangible, but none-the-less concerning risks to future health, such as the health risks associated with exposure to pesticides, ingestion of plastic in the food chain, and the hazards of indoor air pollution through exposure to volatile organic compounds.

  • Spaces available

    The working party will help the industry to update and enhance how potential risk from diabetes and excess mortality is considered, including the need to understand the underwriting implications as treatments improve, and potentially to develop new products that are tailored to those with diabetes.

  • Spaces available

    Part of the Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020 webinar series. Modelling the structure and trends of cancer morbidity risk is important for pricing and reserving in related health insurance fields such as critical illness insurance and care provision. We model the dynamics of cancer incidence over time in different regions in England, using 1981-2016 ONS data. The modelling allows estimation of cancer rates at various age, year, gender and region levels, following a Bayesian setting to account for statistical uncertainty. Our analysis indicates significant regional variation in cancer incidence rates. 

  • Spaces available

    Part of the Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020 webinar series. In this talk we will outline the steps Aviva took in pulling together our first large-scale disclosures on the exposure of our business to climate change published in March 2019; in line with the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. After touching on why insurers have such an important role in climate change, we'll cover a brief “how-to” guide for those who have not yet embarked on thinking about these topics before giving a case study of how the learnings from a TCFD disclosure exercise can be applied to investment portfolios.

  • Spaces available

    Part of the Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020 webinar series. 

    The insurance industry currently underwrites customers with diabetes based on a range of factors, medical expertise and various medical studies. The work undertaken by the Diabetes Working Party would help the industry to approach this using current research findings to update and enhance how potential risk from diabetes is considered. This includes the need to understand the underwriting implications as treatments improve, and potentially to develop new products that are tailored to those with diabetes. This webinar will present our latest findings in the management of this important chronic condition which will include research in collaboration with the ARC.