The Victoria Institute Archive

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive largely consists of material that was created in the course of the day-to-day administration of The Victoria Institute. The minutes reflect the working structure of the organization and how it has changed over time. The minutes start in 1909 and continue up to 2007, with a gap in the records from 1948 to 1956. The first volume in this archive starts in 1909 and is marked as the second volume, therefore there are minutes prior to 1909 that are also missing. There are nearly 400 minutes for the ordinary general meetings, which discussed submitted papers and news regarding Christianity and science; these meetings appear to stop in 1948. The Council minutes, which span the period from 1926 to 2007 with a gap from 1948 to 1956, document the governance of The Victoria Institute. There were annual general meetings which reviewed the objectives, work, finances, membership and news of the previous year. There are also minutes for editorial and executive committees and special meetings; these appear to have been held on a more ad hoc basis.

The archive also includes important documents and correspondence regarding the Institute's finances, subscriptions and membership. In addition, there is significant material on Robert E.D. Clark, a member of The Victoria Institute and a scientist. The archive contains many of his articles on the subject of science and religion. There is also material from his time as editor of Faith & Thought. One file documents the revisions made to The Victoria Institute's constitution, giving insight into changes to its objectives and its transition to becoming a charity. There is a further file on the development of The Victoria Institute's prize funds and material that gives an overview of The Victoria Institute's activities, such as lectures and symposia.

The archive offers useful insights into the administration and history of The Victoria Institute, and also into the wider development and study of the relationship between Christian teachings and scientific advancement.

Up to the 1930s the majority of the collection is handwritten, and after the 1930s it is mostly typed with handwritten notes appearing on some documents.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Victoria Institute was founded in 1865 with the objective to address questions regarding biblical Christianity which were arising due to scientific discovery and philosophical speculation, and for the advancement of Christian religion. James Reddie was The Victoria Institute's first secretary and is credited with being its founder; he drew up its constitution and laid down the first principles. The Victoria Institute was also known as 'The Philosophical Society of Great Britain'. Today The Victoria Institute is a registered charity and has the working title Faith & Thought, which is also the name of its journal.

Initially through meetings and later also through the Journal of The Victoria Institute (which was renamed Faith & Thought), The Victoria Institute provided a forum for people to explore the relationship between Christianity and scientific discovery. At the time of its foundation The Victoria Institute was particularly concerned about Darwin's Origin of the Species and its impact on Christian teaching. However, over time this outlook has shifted and the Institute has regularly published papers and held lectures regarding science, humanities, Christianity and the impact and relevance that these subjects have on one another. The journal was developed to relay this to non-specialists who were interested in these topics.

Further to promote discussion in this field, in 1892 The Victoria Institute created the Gunning Prize, which was awarded to the essay best answering a question set by the Institute. Subsequently, other prize funds were created: the Schofield Prize, the Langhorne Orchard Prize and the Craig Trust. Each prize fund was concerned with a particular subject area. The Gunning prize related to the reconciliation of science and religion, the Schofield prize related to the subject area of psychology and behavioural science, and the Langhorne Orchard prize did not relate to a specific subject area, so was awarded to essays not covered by the other funds. The Craig Trust was awarded for the publication of papers. The prize funds have since been consolidated, however Faith & Thought continues to hold an annual essay-writing competition.

The Victoria Institute started with a membership base in Britain, and it has grown to have an international membership. Robert Edward David Clark (1906-1984), a member of The Victoria Institute from 1932 to 1984, was a prolific writer on the subject of Christianity and science and this archive contains many of his articles. They were published in various newspapers and journals, including The Victoria Institute's journal Faith & Thought.

The Victoria Institute has had various reporting structures. As the minutes in this archive reflect, in the 21st century it developed a hierarchical structure of a president, vice-presidents, an executive committee, the council, general ordinary meetings and various sub-committees. The council is the governing body of The Victoria Institute, and reviews the work of sub-committees. The council also scrutinises the Institute's accounts, and provides a report for the annual general meeting.

Arrangement

The original order of the records has been respected; records that were deposited within a single file have been kept together, and the minutes remain in chronological order. Pages that had become separated have been put back with their document where possible.

The archive is arranged as follows:

  • TVI/1 - Minutes of The Victoria Institute;
  • TVI/2 - Financial Information of The Victoria Institute;
  • TVI/3 - Constitution of The Victoria Institute;
  • TVI/4 - Prizes and Prize Funds;
  • TVI/5 - Membership and Members' Records;
  • TVI/6 - Activities of The Victoria Institute;
  • TVI/7 - History of The Victoria Institute.

Conditions Governing Access

The archive is open to any accredited reader, although some material is closed under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998; closed records are identified at item level in the catalogue. Please consult the archivist for further details.

This finding aid contains personal data about living individuals. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The John Rylands University Library (JRUL) holds the right to process such personal data for research purposes. The Data protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the JRUL to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, the JRUL has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately.

Acquisition Information

The archive was transferred from The Victoria Institute to the JRUL on indefinite loan in August 2011.

Other Finding Aids

None.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

All the files in this archive were collected by The Victoria Institute. Some records have been in the possession of individuals who are/were members or associates of The Victoria Institute. The minute book of general ordinary meetings (TVI/1/1) was deposited separately from the rest of the collection by a former secretary of The Victoria Institute. The Institute's annual accounts (within TVI/2) and the collection of notes, letters and articles by R.E.D. Clark (TVI/5/2) were deposited by The Victoria Institute, but prior to that the records had been in the care of others. Most of the files have been placed inside acid free archive folders.

Bibliography

E.J.G. Titterington, 'Early History of The Victoria Institute', Journal of the Transactions of The Victoria Institute, vol. 82 (1950).

Website of Faith & Thought: http://www.faithandthought.org.uk.