We preserve historical records relating to the RSA's activities and administration and make them available for research. A five-year project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, other donors and the RSA, provided new storage for the archives and ensured that the majority are catalogued.

The catalogue is a guide to the records in the RSA Archive.  It does not offer a digital version of the records themselves, with the exception of some visual materials that have been digitally scanned in at a low resolution and are for reference purposes only.

Search Archive catalogue

A number of images from the Archive can be seen at the RSA's Flickr page.

Explore Your Archive campaign

Explore your archive 

The national Explore Your Archive campaign’s aim is to raise awareness of archives, their value to society and their impact. Raising awareness is not the only aim of the RSA Archive; we want more people to understand and value our specialist archive, to reach and engage with a more diverse audience and also strengthen our relationships with current archive users see. Explore the RSA Archive - Explore your Archive project.

Archive Holdings

The archives date from the foundation of the Society in 1754 and provide a wealth of information about its history. They include minutes, correspondence, reports, drawings, prints, photographs and other printed and visual material.

The core of the Society's work and activities is recorded in printed Transactions (dating from 1783) and its Journal (from 1852), copies of which which are available in the Library.  These often provide the starting point for research. The Transactions cover most of the period during which the Society offered rewards or 'premiums' in a wide range of fields, and the Journal records the Society's ongoing lecture programme. These publications are indexed. The archives may also provide additional information, and staff will be able to advise about this.

The archives contain only limited information about individual Fellows, and we do not hold personal papers of Fellows or receive deposits from other institutions. 

Archive Hours and Access

Fellows and members of the public are welcome to consult documents in person, by appointment, and no charge is made for access. They are stored in secure and environmentally controlled strong rooms which protect against atmospheric changes, fire and theft, and are available for research in the Archive Reading Room.  The Reading Room is located within the RSA Library.

Appointments can usually be accommodated Wednesday to Friday from 9.30am to 4.45pm.

Please arrange appointments no later than 24 hours in advance of when you propose to visit.

Archive Services and Policies

Our Archive Access Policy can be downloaded here.  

Enquiry Research Service
Archive staff may be able to answer simple enquiries without a visit required, and you are welcome to contact us by telephone, letter or email. In the case of more complex enquiries or major research projects, staff are unable to undertake detailed or extensive work on your behalf, but will be happy to advise about whether we hold material which will help you. The service we provide is as follows:

Limited and specific enquiries requiring less than half an hour's research:
These will be answered by staff without charge.

Enquiries requiring between thirty minutes and an hour to research:
We can provide a paid research service at a rate of £5 per 10 minutes or part thereof, or you can visit the Archive in person, or engage somebody to do so on your behalf.

Enquiries requiring more than one hour to research:
Staff cannot undertake such research. You will need to visit the Archive yourself, or engage somebody to do so on your behalf.

The Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives maintains a list of members who will undertake research in particular areas.

Audio Archive

Once recorded, event audio files are available on our website for up to two years. After this period, they are deposited with the British Library Sound Archive and may be consulted there through the Library’s Listening and Viewing Service. The service is free, but you may need to make an appointment.

If you have an enquiry about the collection please contact the British Library’s Listening and Viewing Service.
Email the British Library Sound Archive.
Tel: 020 7412 7418

Please Note: The British Library is not able provide copies of unpublished recordings to third parties unless the person or institution requesting a copy can obtain written permission from all the speakers involved. This also applies to any other copyrighted material appearing in the recording such as music, or readings from published texts.

Edited transcripts are available for some events. However, not all events have been transcribed and there are no transcripts available for post-2008 events.

For further information on transcripts and how to access them, please contact the Archive team.

View past RSA Events:

September 2006 to August 2007 (PDF)
September 2007 to August 2008 (PDF)
September 2008 to August 2009 (PDF)
September 2009 to August 2010 (PDF)
September 2010 to August 2011 (PDF)

Contact us

8 John Adam Street
London, WC2N 6EZ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7451 6847 (general enquiries)
Email the archive (general enquiries)

Eve Watson
Head of Archive
Tel: 020 7451 6885