Papers of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1831-1972

Scope and Content

The archives of the Association cover all aspects of its work over most of the 150 years of its existence, with the records of the annual meetings predominating. Over one third of the papers relate to these meetings, the bulk of them ephemeral printed material. For the first sixty years only formal papers, like minute-books and ledgers, survive to supplement the papers of the annual meetings. Only from the early years of the twentieth century do files of back-up papers and correspondence survive, and even then they are by no means comprehensive.

Administrative / Biographical History

The British Association for the Advancement of Science was founded in 1831 to strengthen the relationship between science and the public interest. An invaluable history of the Association by O.J.R. Howarth, based on its records, was first published in 1921, and expanded to mark the centenary in 1931 as The British Association....: A retrospect.

Access Information

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Acquisition Information

The archives of the Association were deposited in the Bodleian in 1977.


Collection level description created by Emily Tarrant, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

A full catalogue is available in the Library. An online catalogue will shortly be available (


The early papers were used by Jack Morrell and Arnold Thackray in Gentlemen of Science: Early Years of the B.A.A.S. (Oxford, 1981). The same authors printed several of the letters from Dep. B.A.A.S. 1 in Gentlemen of Science, Early Correspondence (Camden fourth series xxx, 1984).