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Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine



Reference code(s): GB 0098 A-Z

Held at: Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine


Date(s): 1616-2001 (ongoing)

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: Approximately 788 boxes

Name of creator(s): University of London | Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine


Administrative/Biographical history:

Imperial College was established in 1907 by Royal Charter, by the merger of Royal School of Mines, the Royal College of Science and the City and Guilds College. All three institutions retained their separate identities after their incorporation. The Great Exhibition of 1851 was an important factor in the development of South Kensington as a centre for Science and the Arts, and consequently the establishment there of Imperial College. The Exhibitions' large profits funded the purchase of some of the land the College now stands on. Prince Albert was a keen supporter of the idea, as were Lyon Playfair and Henry Cole, Secretaries of the Department of Science and Art. The three worked closely to achieve the realisation of the scheme, and the opening of the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1857 and the Natural History Museum in 1881 partly realised their ambitions.

The Royal College of Chemistry was the first constituent college of Imperial College to be established, in 1845. It was the result of a private enterprise to found a college to aid industry, and opened with the first Professor, August von Hofmann, and 26 students. The College was incorporated with the Royal School of Mines in 1853, effectively becoming its department of Chemistry.

The Royal School of Mines was established in 1851, as the Government School of Mines and Science Applied to the Arts. The School developed from the Museum of Economic Geology, a collection of minerals, maps and mining equipment made by Sir Henry De la Beche, and opened in 1841. The Museum also provided some student places for the study of mineralogy and metallurgy. Sir Henry was also the director of the Geological Survey of Great Britain. The Museum of Practical Geology and the Government School of Mines Applied to the Arts opened in a purpose designed building in Jermyn Street in 1851. The officers of the Geological Survey became the lecturers and professors of the School of Mines. The name was changed in 1863 to the Royal School of Mines.

The Royal College of Science was formed in 1881 by merging some courses of the Royal School of Mines with the teaching of other science subjects at South Kensington. It was originally named the Normal School of Science (the title was based on the Ecole Normale in Paris), but in 1890 was renamed the Royal College of Science. Thomas Henry Huxley was Dean from 1881 to 1895, and had been a prominent figure in the establishment of the College in South Kensington.

The City and Guilds College was originally known as the Central Institution of the City and Guilds of London Institute. The Institute has its origins in a meeting of the livery companies in 1877, which led to the foundation of the City and Guilds Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education, to improve the training of craftsmen. One of the Institute's objectives was to create a Central Institution in London. As they were unable to find a site for the Institution, Finsbury Technical College was established in 1878 in Cowper Street. The College closed in 1926. The Central Institution opened in 1884, in a purpose designed building in South Kensington. It became known as the City and Guilds College after its incorporation into Imperial College in 1907.

Lord Haldane was a key figure in the establishment of Imperial College, together with Lord Rosebery and Sidney and Beatrice Webb. Haldane continued Prince Albert's project to use the land owned by the Commissioners of the 1851 Exhibition in South Kensington to develop a centre for science and engineering. A Committee was appointed by the London County Council, and recommended the establishement of Imperial College. The support of generous benefactors, notably Sir Julius Wernher, and Sir Alfred and Otto Beit was instrumental in the development of the new College.

The remodelling of the College site from the 1950s has seen the City and Guilds building demolished in 1962, and the Imperial Institute building in 1963. The Collcutt Tower of the Imperial Institute (now Queen's Tower) was saved and became free-standing in 1968. New buildings were erected and residential student accommodation improved. The College established a residential field station in 1938 at Hurworth near Slough, and in 1947 at Silwood Park near Ascot, which remains today.

St Mary's Hospital Medical School and the National Heart and Lung Institute merged with Imperial College in 1988 and 1995 respectively.The Imperial College School of Medicine was formed in 1997 from the Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School and the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, with the existing schools at the St Mary's and Royal Brompton campuses. As a result of the mergers, the College received a new Charter in 1998.In 2000 Wye College and the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology merged with the College. The Kennedy Institute became a Division of the School of Medicine and Wye College is now known as Imperial College at Wye.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Imperial College, 1616-2000, comprising Constitutional and Incorporation records, 1903-1990, including Charter of Incorporation, 1907, Imperial College Act, 1988; Governing Body records, 1908-2000, notably minutes, 1908-2000, minutes of the Council, 1998-1999, minutes of the Court, 1998-1999; Board of Studies and related committee records, 1911-2000, notably minutes of the Board of Studies, 1911-1996; Financial records, 1907-1992, including College accounts, 1911-1960; Administration Department records, 1908-1991; College staff records, 1907-2000; records relating to former students, 1896-2001, including Central Technical College Old Students' Association reports and members, 1902-1973, City and Guilds College register, 1884-1934;
records of Student Unions and Associations, 1846-2000, notably Royal College of Science and Royal School of Mines Students' Union, 1889-1913, Royal School of Mines Student's Union, 1905-1973, Royal School of Mines Old Students' Association, 1912-1984, Royal College of Science Students' Union records, 1909-1981, Royal College of Science Old Students' Association records, 1907-1990, City and Guilds Union, 1895-1998, Old Centralians, 1897-1998, Twentyone Club, 1928-1983, Imperial College Students' Union, 1911-1985, clubs and societies of the College, [1921-1986]; College publications, and related papers, notably the Phoenix (Imperial College Arts Magazine), 1887-2000, Felix (Imperial College student newspaper), 1950-2000, journals of College societies and associations, 1848-1995;
records relating to the Architectural Association, 1960-1970; the Beit Fellowship, 1913-1972;
College Registry records, principally concerning students and courses, 1909-1998; records relating to the Department of Science and Art, 1853-1984, including papers concerning the establishment of Imperial College; First and Second World War records, 1915-1947, including military occupation of the college and transfer of students; papers relating to College Anniversaries and Visits, 1908-1988, including College centenary celebrations, 1945; College Expansion Scheme records, 1860-1992, namely the development of the South Kensington site; Imperial College Development Association records, 1919-1933; papers relating to lectures and associated studies organised by the College, 1923-1998; papers relating to institutions, societies and bodies with links to Imperial College, 1852-1994, principally other South Kensington institutions, funding bodies; records relating to the acquisition and maintenance of Imperial College buildings, 1883-1991; records relating to Higher Education Institutions, 1907-1989, namely British and overseas universities and technical colleges; records relating to the University of London, 1901-1989; records concerning College armorial bearings, portraits and paintings, 1908-1987; records relating to the College Libraries, 1931-1986 and Archives, 1933-1987;
academic departmental records, 1871-1996, principally concerning courses, scholarships, awards and prizes and administration; records of Interdisciplinary Centres and Courses, 1953-1999, including the Robotics and Automated Systems Centre, Centre for Composite Materials, Centre for Remote Sensing and Centre for Environmental Technology; records of Field Research Stations at Hurworth, Slough and Silwood Park and Harlington Athletics Ground, 1616-1990, including Sunninghill manorial records, 1616-1790; papers of the Aeronautics Department, Meteorology Department, and Physiological Flow Studies Unit, 1907-1987, Botany Department and Biology Life Science Division, 1894-1992, Chemistry Department, 1880-1991, Civil Engineering Department, 1884-1981, Computer Unit and Department of Computing, 1955-1988, Electrical Engineering Department, 1891-1980, Geology Department, 1876-1996, History of Science and Technology Department, 1954-1994, Management School, 1956-1986, Materials Department, 1887-1992, Mathematics Department, 1903-1981, Mechanical Engineering Department, 1904-1982, Mineral Resources Engineering Department, 1908-1992, Nuclear Power and Nuclear Technology Studies, 1956-1986, Physics Department, 1882-1985, Social and Economic Studies Department, 1965-1981, Zoology Department, 1908-1979.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

The records are arranged in sections as outlined in the scope and content.

Conditions governing access:

Researchers wishing to consult the Archives should first contact the College Archivist, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2AZ, for an appointment.

Conditions governing reproduction:

A photocopying service is available at the discretion of the Archivist. Photocopies are supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Archivist.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

A catalogue is available in the reading room of the College Archives.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Created and accumulated by Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine during the course of business.

Immediate source of acquisition:


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Records of the Royal College of Chemistry, 1844-1952 (C), Royal School of Mines and Royal College of Science, 1851-1966 (D), City and Guilds College, 1876-1985, (FC-FS), City and Guilds of London Institute, 1878-1997 (F), Finsbury Technical College, 1879-1926 (FA), Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, 1823-1997, National Heart and Lung Institute, 1877-1972 and Westminster Medical School, 1885-1986, held at Imperial College.

Records of St Mary's Hospital Medical School records, 1852-2000, held at the Trust Archives, St Mary's Hospital, records of the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith, 1921-1995, held at Imperial College Hammersmith Campus Library, correspondence with Imperial College from 1879, held by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, Imperial College.

Publication note:

Science for Industry. A Short History of the Imperial College of Science and Technology A Rupert Hall (Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, 1982); Imperial College. A Pictorial History Richard G Williams and Anne Barrett (Imperial College Archives, London, 1988).



Archivist's note: Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions: General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: November 2000

Academic buildings | Educational buildings
Academic libraries | Libraries
Academic teaching personnel | Teachers | Educational personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People
Educational finance | Economics of education
Fellowships | Educational grants
Graduates | Students
Higher education | Educational levels
Student organizations | Educational associations | Educational administrative structure | Educational organizations
Technological institutes | Universities | Higher education institutions | Educational institutions
University courses | Educational courses
University governing bodies | Governing bodies | Educational supervision
University students | Students
War | International conflicts
World War One (1914-1918) | World wars (events) | Wars (events)
World War Two (1939-1945) | World wars (events) | Wars (events)
Educational governing bodies
Higher science education

Personal names

Corporate names
Architectural Association
City and Guilds College
Department of Science and Art
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
Royal College of Science
Royal School of Mines
University of London x London University