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Portraits of Members of the Geological Society

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 378 GSL/POR
Held at: Geological Society of London
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Full title: Portraits of Members of the Geological Society
Date(s): 1792-2011
Level of description: Series
Extent: 1499 items or folders
Name of creator(s):


Administrative/Biographical history:

From the beginnings of the Society, Members donated specimens, books and illustrations to the Library and Museum collections. The earliest mention of a portrait image being given was Louis Albert Necker's donation of an engraving of his maternal grandfather Horace Benedict de Saussure in December 1811 [no longer extant].

The Society also holds larger oil paintings and portrait busts of its Fellows, again acquired through donation or by purchase. However from the 1860s onwards, when commercial photography became more available, the Society actively sought to collect images of its Fellows probably inspired by a printed notice issued by the photographer's studio Maull and Polyblank announcing the formation of a carte de visite series of Geological Society Fellows (LDGSL/332). The majority of the images in the portrait collection derive from this series, stopping around the First World War. After the 1930s, and up until the 1990s, portraits were generally only collected of Presidents of the Society.


Scope and content/abstract:

Portraits, mostly of Members of the Geological Society of London, 1792-2011, comprising of oil paintings, portrait busts, prints and drawings and sculptures of individuals notably including:

Mary Anning; William Babington; James Scott Bowerbank; William Buckland; Thomas Henry De la Beche; Hugh Falconer; Archibald Geikie; George Bellas Greenough; Henry Thomas Huxley; Charles Lyell; John MacCulloch; Gideon Mantell; Roderick Impey Murchison; William Pengelly; John Phillips; Joseph Prestwich; Andrew Crombie Ramsay; Adam Sedgwick; William Smith; Abraham Gottlob Werner; Henry Woodward.

Also 1,042 black and white photographs of Fellows who were chiefly active between the 1850s and 1920s, including Foreign Members and Correspondents; images of groups, notably a meeting of 'The British Association at Newcastle in 1838' and 'Discussion on the Piltdown Skull', 1915; images of Presidents of the Society, 1833-2011; images of winners of medals and funds, 1947, 1980-2003; images of staff of the Geological Society, 1863-1997.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The series has been built up over a number of years and put together in rather a piecemeal fashion. There is therefore no clear arrangement, particularly after GSL/POR/52.

Conditions governing access:

Access is by appointment only, daily readership fee is applicable unless you are a member of the Society. Please contact the Archivist for further information.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to copyright and the condition of the original, may be supplied. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Archivist.

Finding aids:

An online, detailed catalogue will be available shortly.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Description by Caroline Lam.

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:
December 2013.

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