Digital history of science collection, ready to launch with nearly one million pages

For the first time researchers, teachers and students can access digitally more than 90% of the British Association for the Advancement of Science – Collections on the History of Science (1830s-1970s).

Free to Jisc members and affiliates,  the move to digitise this collection, much of which was previously unpublished, began in 2020,when leading UK university libraries and archives were invited to put forward their archives. This was the first time they had an opportunity to influence a commercial publisher’s decisions about what to digitise.

The collection includes maps, photographs, slides and documents from the core years of the British Empire,  documenting the efforts of the British scientific community to establish science as a profession and establish Britain as a world leader in science. It connects the works, thoughts and interactions of some of the most influential scientists of the time, from Charles Darwin to Sir William Ramsay.

The academic community now has access to this rich source of material, the impact of which has already been highlighted by Kings College London, the University of Birmingham and the University of Liverpool.

Paola Marchionni, Jisc’s head of product, said:

“We are pleased to have reached this milestone in the archive, which is a major resource for the academic community and, importantly, puts it within reach of students, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to easily access this material. The digitisation of archive material is more important than ever if we are to support new models of scholarship and research-led teaching.”

Simon Bell, publisher of the Wiley Digital Archives programme, said:

“Wiley is delighted that this major project is coming towards final publication. This resource, rich in primary source material, will be of high value  to all of those interested in the history of science. We anticipate that the archive will provide a wealth of research material for scholars for many years to come.”

A free webinar to launch the collection is being hosted by Jisc on 19 May. The event will include a discussion on research in the history of science with Prof Emeritus Robert Fox, PhD candidate Amanda Faulkner and head of archives at King’s College London, Geoff Browell.  Anyone interested can register to attend here.

The event will be of particular interest to researchers, teachers and students of the history of science; academics with an interest in research-led teaching and using primary sources; and also:

  • Academic liaison and subject specialist librarians
  • Library acquisition and e-resource managers
  • Roles with responsibility for collection development and content strategy
  • Archive managers
  • Digitisation specialists

For further information about the webinar, contact