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Natural History Museum

Ray Society


Reference code(s): GB 0060 RS

Held at: Natural History Museum

Title: Ray Society

Date(s): 1939-1985

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 4 series

Name of creator(s): Ray Society


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Ray Society was founded in 1844 by a group of British Naturalists which included Thomas Bell, George Johnston and Richard Owen, and it commemorates the great English naturalist John Ray (1627-1705). The purpose of the society as then stated, was 'the promotion of Natural History by the printing of original works in Zoology and Botany; of new editions of works of established merit; of rare tracts and manuscripts; and of translations and reprints of foreign works; which are generally inaccessible.' The main object of the society remains the publication of learned books on natural history, with special emphasis on the British fauna and flora. In its earlier days, the society was heavily reliant upon foreign, and in particular German research and material, which was regarded as the leading authority in the fields of Zoology and Botany. In an age when the advancement of science was very much in vogue, the society became an instant success, and within a year it had enrolled some 650 members. It reached a peak of 868 in 1847. The officers of the society consist of a President, six Vice-Presidents, four Honorary Vice-Presidents, with a Treasurer, Foreign Secretary, Secretary and Assistant Secretary. Council meets twice a year.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Ray Society, 1939-1985, comprising: RS1 Secretary's Correspondence; RS2 Secretary's subject files; RS3 Treasurer's files and papers and RS4 Book Reviews and other printed ephemera.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

As outlined in the Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

By appointment with the Archivist, by email to or by post to the Museum Archivist, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD.

Conditions governing reproduction:

At the Archivist's discretion. Photocopying service available. Digital photography (without flash) permitted for research purposes on completion of a photography permit form.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited by officers of the Ray Society.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Ray Society Council minute books, signature books, cash books, subscription ledgers and some early correspondence are held in the General Library Manuscripts, having been given to the Museum in 1985

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Entry copied from the Natural History Museum online catalogue by Sarah Drewery.
References: 'The Ray Society - A Bibliographical History' by Richard Curle.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with 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: Sep 2008

Societies | Associations | Organizations
Natural history

Personal names

Corporate names
Ray Society