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Please be aware that some material may contain words, descriptions or illustrations which will not reflect current scientific understanding and may be considered in today's context inaccurate, unethical, offensive or distressing.

About Science in the Making

The Royal Society strives to make our archives and historic journals digitally available and useful for researchers, students and the general public.

The Royal Society collections

The Royal Society is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Our library holds one of the most important history of science collections in the world with thousands of rare and unique items. These include published works, handwritten drafts, correspondence, illustrations, and original data on everything from rainfall to astronomical observations. We hold records of the work of the Society since 1660. Some of our historical datasets, such as those on climate, contribute to current scientific investigation and they are all important for historical research. Use our catalogues to discover the extent of our library, archive, instruments and picture collections and browse through more digitised illustrations, books and exhibits in our digital resources

Science in the Making

Established in 2014, Science in the Making is an ambitious digitisation programme that aims to make archival material related to the publication of the Society’s scientific journals available online to all. On this website you can discover the complex material that lies behind the published articles: peer reviews, correspondence, photographs, illustrations and early drafts.

This complements the high quality digitisation of all our journals dating from 1665 to 1996. Librarians can purchase perpetual access to the Royal Society Journals Archive.

A pilot site of the platform was launched in 2018, which enabled us to gather transcriptions for hundreds of our archival documents. We would like to thank all those who volunteered time and skills to create those transcriptions. The transcribed texts have now been added to our catalogues and contribute to improving the searchability of our archives.

How to use the site

We hope to have designed an intuitive site, but here are some tips on how to find and re-use our content:

  • To search for a specific record using a reference number, use "quotation marks", e.g.: "CLP/1/1"
  • To narrow your search use our filter boxes, one filter at a time
  • Although our dedicated person pages are only for Fellows, you can find many scientists who were not elected to the Fellowship, simply type their name in the search box
  • For research purposes, you can download a low-resolution image of the items from the viewer
  • To include an item within an online platform, use our 'embed' card below the viewer this will ensure that the metadata and copyright information related to the item remains visible
  • To reproduce an image for a publication, website or any commercial use, please contact

Sensitive content

The Centre for history of science and Royal Society Publishing offer access to a wide range of documents, including historical materials containing some content that is now unacceptable, including offensive language, negative stereotypes, prejudiced scientific concepts, unethical experiments and disproven hypotheses.

Such materials reflect the attitudes and perspectives of the relevant time period and provide the opportunity for study in order to understand the origins of contemporary racism, sexism, and other discriminatory attitudes.

You can read how historians of science study these complex issues in some of our In focus section. 

Take down policy

Upon selection of the material included in this project, efforts have been made to ensure that nothing infringed any person’s right. We recognise, however, that material made available may inadvertently contain defamatory opinions or sensitive data or include copyrighted material.

If you believe that you are the copyright owner for the manuscripts on this website and if you do not consent to the use of the material in accordance to our terms of use, or if you feel that a specific content included is defamatory, please contact us with the following information:

  • Name and contact details
  • Reference of the material in question
  • Reason for your request
  • Proof that you are rights holder or representing a legal rights holder (please note that false claims are considered perjury)

Upon receipt of your complaint, the team engages itself to:

  • Take-down the material during the assessment of your complaint
  • Provide you with a written assessment and final decision, if necessary after having sought legal advice

Contact us

The library is open to the public for research purposes, by appointment. 
For any enquiry on the collections, contact: 

To contact the Science in the Making team, contact: