Ref NoDA
TitleDomestic Archive
AdminHistoryThe Linnean Society of London is the world's oldest active society devoted to the study and dissemination of natural history, "in all its branches". Founded in 1788 by botanist Sir James Edward Smith (later the first President) along with fellow founding members Thomas Marsham (the first Secretary) and Samuel Goodenough (the first Treasurer).

The Society was founded around the acquisition, by Smith, of the botanical, zoological and library collections of the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus, whose classification studies of the natural world led to his being known as the "father of taxonomy". While the Society used many variations of the name throughout its early history, the name on the first charter of the society is settled as "The Linnean Society of London", derived from "Carl von Linne", the name taken by Linnaeus after his ennoblement. The coat of arms of the society is also derived from the arms Linnaeus designed himself and was granted at this time.

The first Meeting of the Society was held at the Marlborough Coffee House on the 26th of February 1788. General Meetings of the Society were open to members and visitors and included the reading of papers and the viewing of physical and depictions of specimens supplied from across the globe mostly by other Fellows. These included the introduction to the Western world of many botanical and zoological specimens that were often collected and described or depicted with the help of indigenous populations.

Over the years the society has had many homes across London but settled in rooms in Burlington House in 1857 and then New Burlington House in 1873, an addition to the original building, purpose built for a selection of learned societies by the UK Government. The society and collections have remained in place ever since with the exception of the evacuation of collections to Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire and the house of Librarian Warren Royal Dawson in Oxford, during World War II.

While women were welcome to submit papers to meetings of the society, the first female Fellows were admitted in 1904 thanks to a campaign spearheaded by the botanist Marian Ogilvie Farquharson (although Farquharson herself was blackballed until 1908).

The Linnean Society continues to support research and education related to the natural world in a number of ways including but not limited to; various medals and prizes, journals and publications, education programmes, and access to and engagement with collections.
DescriptionThe domestic archives of the Linnean Society of London comprises of records created in the course of the everyday activities of the society since its inception. These records document the creation, development and continuing work of the society to champion, "the cultivation of the science of natural history in all its branches".

Material can be found spanning the initial formation of the society by Sir James Edward Smith in 1788, through its many homes and the move into New Burlington House, the gaining of charitable status, the metamorphosis of the meetings and engagement with both Fellows and the general public, and the ongoing campaign to remain in the purpose built New Burlington House rooms.

The collection includes four sections: Governance, Operations, Engagement and Collections.

Governance: Documents relating to the creation and maintenance of the society and the policies, structures and people integral to its continued existence.

Operations: Documents relating to the day to day life of the society such as the history of the homes of the society including New Burlington House, society staffing, and financial paperwork.

Engagement: Documents relating to the Linnean Society's work creating and facilitating events and meetings, celebrations such as the Bicentenary and Tercentenary, the creation of publications, and the society's educational work.

Collections: Documents relating to the library, specimen, artefact and archival collections held by the society, as well as their acquisition, disposal, continued care and related engagement.
Extent[166 boxes, 8 drawers]
ArrangementThe domestic material of the society was initially informally arranged in a structure that mirrored the workings of the society. It was partially numbered and listed by volunteers. Some files were then reorganised at a later date. Where a listing was found it has been included in the catalogue in the order it was created in, excluding items that were not found. Where no listing was found a basic description of the file contents has been given.

Digital material on discs was removed from boxes. Most of it did not come from a specific file or had already been separated from the file in transition or storage. It will be catalogued at a later date as part of the Digital Archives of the Society.
NotesSome files include detailed listings of contents. These have been included where possible. However, some of these files were later re-organised and thus, where possible, only the papers currently in the file have been included on the online catalogue so numbering may seem sporadic. The original listing document is included with the physical file where possible.
Creator NameThe Linnean Society of London
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