Explore The IET's Archive! 6746

Explore The IET's Archive!


This week marks the launch of 'Explore your Archive', a national campaign aimed at showcasing archives from across the UK and Ireland in order to excite, bring communities together and to tell amazing stories. 

The IET Archives collect and retain material relating to the IET and its predecessor institutions as well as the history of engineering and technology. Our collections cover innovation and developments in these areas from the fourteenth century to the present day.

In our collections we hold: 

The Archives of the IET
These are the official records and working papers concerning the activities of the IET since its foundation as the Society of Telegraph Engineers in 1871. We preserve the records of the IET’s 130-year history, including material from the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), IERE, IIE and also IMfgE who were formerly the Institution of Production Engineers (IProdE). The IET Archives are made up of the archives of the IET itself, dating from 1871, and collections on the history of technology that have been deposited with us.

The special collection manuscripts
We have acquired the papers and manuscripts of many distinguished people concerned with science and technology. These include the papers of Sir Francis Ronalds, and Oliver Heaviside, plus many others. Other manuscripts and documents relate to the development of the telegraph (particularly the Atlantic submarine cable) and the development of electrical equipment in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Perhaps one of the most important collections held is the Faraday Collection. These manuscripts were presented to the IET in 1915 by David James Blaikley on the condition that they were preserved and made available to researchers. The collection consists of notebooks, correspondence and manuscripts covering Faraday's travels in Europe with Sir Humphry Davy, his chemical notes and some 600 letters from many famous names in science and current affairs.

The National Archive for Electrical Science and Technology (NAEST)
This collection consists of corporate records, constituting a considerable business archive in engineering policy and innovation. The records cover the early nineteenth century to the present day and range from company records, records of societies, working papers of engineers and scientists, plans, drawings, photographs and trade literature. Three major collections are the archives of the Women’s Engineering Society, the Electrical Association for Women and the personal papers of Dame Caroline Haslett.

Rare book collections
We are fortunate to have acquired two fine rare books collections. The library of Sir Francis Ronalds, which comprises about 2000 volumes and 4000 pamphlets on electricity and magnetism, was bequeathed to his brother-in-law but in accordance with Ronalds’ wish that the library should remain together, it was transferred to the IET in 1876. It includes many books collected during his travels abroad.

Silvanus Philips Thompson’s library of 900 rare books, 3700 scientific and technical books and 8000 pamphlets was purchased in 1917 by the IET with a grant from the Council and subscriptions from members and his old students at Finsbury Technical College. The library includes rare books from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries and thirteen manuscripts including Peter Peregrinus’ Epistola De Magnete and Chaucer’s Astrolabe, dated 1391.

The two collections together form one of the finest small collections of books and manuscripts relating to magnetism and the development of electrical science and technology.

The Woman Engineer Journal
The Woman Engineer is the journal of the Women’s Engineering Society. The journal has been produced quarterly since 1919 and a complete set can be accessed at the IET Archives. The journal is an important tool for research as it contains a wealth of information regarding not only women in engineering but also a wide variety of information for social history, gender studies and innovation in the UK since World War I. 

Visit the Archives

You can visit the IET Archives Centre by appointment, Monday to Friday between 10:00 and 16:00. So that we can make your visit as valuable as possible, we need at least a week’s notice to order your material.

Read up on using the archives for information on what to expect during your visit. You should also search our catalogue, and once you know what you’d like to view, quote the reference numbers when making your appointment using the contacts below.

Archive Centre
Savoy Hill House
7-10 Savoy Hill

E: archives@theiet.org
T: +44 (0)20 7344 8407

Blog IET Insights 25/11/2019 11:47am GMT