Welcome to the IET Archives

The IET Archives consists of the IET's own records, special collections, rare books libraries and deposited business records. They all reflect the history and innovation of engineering and technology.

The IET Archives

The core collections and rare books libraries are held at the Archives Centre in London with the majority of material held off site in a special temperature and humidity controlled repository. We offer a basic enquiry service and are also open to the public to view material by appointment. Please contact us to find out more. 

 

Image from Giovani Aldini's Essai theorique et experimental sur le Galvanisme 1804  Search the catalogue

Use keywords to search catalogue descriptions on what is held in the archives.

  Detail from the Dudley watercolours of HMS Agamemnon laying the Atlantic Telegraph 1858 Research guides

Detailed guides on popular topics with tips on how to search our catalogue to help you get the best from our collections. 

Faraday Lecture 1963 Piezo-electric crystal IET history

Information on the IET plus its predecessors, Savoy Place- the London home of the IET and lists of officials. 

Photograph of a seated portrait of Francis Hughes Webb, Secretary of the Society of Telegraph Engineers, with a child c1890 Family history

Discover more of your family history and what records we hold that can help you. 

Detail from Mazda Electric Lamps advertisement Online exhibitions

A showcase for images and stories from a number of popular topics using material from the collections.

Silvanus Philips Thompson in academic dress Biographies of prominent engineers

A wealth of information on pioneers in the engineering profession.

100 years of INSPEC INSPEC history

A detailed guide on the history of INSPEC originating as Science Abstracts in 1898.

Detail of an illustration from Methodus Geometrica 1598 Highlights from the collections

Interesting articles using material from the collections.

Read our blog

Our blog is the place to find out our latest news and what new collections have been added to the IET Archives. It is packed with interesting articles and images. We also have a new World War One blog, set up to commemorate the outbreak of the war, using material held within the IET Archives. 

 

An overview of the collections

The Archives of the IET   Sketch of a horse by Alfred Ronalds using perspective tracing instruments 1814-1859 SCMSS 1-7-41

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

The IET has 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 his 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) Facts about dishwashers leaflet from the NAEST collection

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

The IET is 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’ Epsitola 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.