Explore the history of science through our rare and intriguing collections of books, archives, pictures, and artefacts.

The Royal Society collections began with the foundation of the Society in 1660 and cover all branches of science. The library holds over 78,000 volumes, including rare printed books, scientific periodicals and an extensive collection of scholarship on the history of science available for browsing in our Reading Room.

The archives include the works of Fellows of the Royal Society, personal papers of eminent scientists, letters and manuscripts sent to the Society or presented at meetings, and administrative records documenting the Society’s activities since 1660. Our collections also include nearly 6,000 photographs and 1,300 engravings, 265 medals, 215 paintings, 80 sculptures and 57 original scientific instruments and timepieces.

Use our catalogues to search our printed and archival collections, our Science in the Making platform where over 40,000 manuscripts are accessible, our picture library to browse digital images of our paintings, drawings and prints.

Learn more about how we support research in the history of science. Please check our opening hours before planning your visit.

History of science blog posts

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