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Linnean Society Archives

The Linnean Society has rich collections of manuscripts and archives.

Domestic Archives

Darwin Roll and Charter

The bound domestic archives include:

  • Ledgers
  • Minute books of the meetings of Fellows, Council and Committees
  • Library accession, donation registers and loan
  • Attendance books
  • Records of the sale and transfer of specimens and collections
  • Records of receipt of papers for publication
  • Records of the dispatch of journals to members and institutions
  • Extramural activities and relations with other organisations


    Robert Brown Certificate

    Documents relating to Fellows of the Society include Certificates of Recommendation for Fellowship, dating back to the Society’s beginnings. These contain valuable biographical and related information.

    We may also hold portraits, letters or manuscripts of past Fellows, especially drafts of their papers read at the Society’s meetings. Obituaries or published articles from the Society’s publications may be provided.

    A searchable database of Fellows currently contains records of Fellows elected up to the mid-nineteenth century. This contains biographical information as well as information about associated material. This database can be searched by Library staff upon request.

    Society Business

    Potter Council MinutesFinancial records are included, along with archives relating to past meetings and events.

    There are collections of correspondence, being records of communications with Fellows about Society business.

    This does not sound very exciting, but the case of Beatrix Potter shows how important this information can be. Beatrix Potter is probably best known to the world for her beautifully illustrated children’s books. She is much less well-known for her scientific work, particularly on the study of fungi.

    On 1st April 1897 her paper on the germinating biospores of agarics was presented at the Linnean Society. There is a misconception that Beatrix Potter’s paper was not accepted by the Linnean Society for reading but this is erroneous. The Council Minutes of Thursday 18th March 1897 record the order for the paper to be refereed (Paper No 2978). The Register of Papers records that the paper was sent out for referral to George Murray on the 23rd of March and returned by March 25th. Beatrix Potter’s paper entitled ‘Germination of the spores of the Agaricinae’ was read at the Linnean Society on 1st April 1897. The Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London, 1897, p.11 records 'The following paper was read:- "On the germination of the Spores of Agaricineae". By Miss Helen B. Potter. (Communicated by Mr George Massee, F.L.S.)'. Naturally, we are very proud of our link to Beatrix Potter, and the records that bear witness of this link are highly treasured.

    Smaller Collections

    Queen Victoria Roll and Charter

    There are smaller archives, including files on the Charter and byelaws, membership, homes of the Society, gifts, donations and bequests, collections relating to past staff, and portraits.