It is not unusual for engineering to ‘run in the family’ with a significant number of our members representing the third or fourth generation to have entered the profession. With interest in genealogy at an all-time high, the Institution’s archivists are helping members to find out more about their ancestors who worked in engineering in the past, with an innovative new event for family historians. At the same time, there is even more incentive to ‘raid the lost archives’ with the addition of 900 new images to the Institution’s picture gallery.
For many people the BBC’s programme Who Do You Think You Are? is unmissable television and has inspired the nation to delve into their family history and learn more about the lives of their ancestors: who they were and what they did. The Institution’s archive is a rich source of information on engineering professionals since the 1840s, and has increasingly been sought out by both members and the general public as they look to find out about their family history.
To address this growing interest, on 23 September 2010, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Engineering and Technology archives are holding a joint open day for family historians. The event will be held at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and will offer a rare opportunity to talk with the professional custodians of the three archives and to see the stunning Elizabethan-style library, designed by Basil Slade in 1899.
The programme includes short talks on researching engineering ancestors, the international history of engineering, technical education and engineering in wartime.
Institution Archivist Laura Gardner commented: “The Institution’s Archive is a wealth of engineering history, which has been built up over the last 160 years. We want to make more people aware of the fantastic resources available, for family history, learning about our mechanical engineering heritage, as well as the lives and works of inspirational engineers such as Joseph Whitworth and George Stephenson.”
This event is of interest to anyone researching the history of civil, mechanical or electrical engineers and the engineering industry, and who would like to take a closer look at the historical records available. For further details please contact the IMechE archives at email@example.com or on 020 7973 1265.
900 new images added to the IMechE picture gallery
Over 900 exciting new images have recently been added to the Information and Library Service’s improved Picture Gallery, http://picturegallery.imeche.org. A number of important archive collections have been digitised which means that they can now be easily viewed for the first time.
These include 200 large historic drawings by the Nasmyth, Gaskell and Company, famous locomotive engineer David Joy and the Boulton and Watt Company. Most of these drawings are larger than A0 and difficult to handle, so online access for researchers will help ensure their long-term preservation, as well as widening access.
A collection of locomotive postcards dating 1897-1928 is the second addition. This collection is housed in the original photograph albums and is quite fragile, so it is wonderful that this historic resource is now available online
The other collection just digitised encompasses 400 photographs that chart the history of the D Napier and Son Company. The photograph collection begins with their earliest cars, and documents the company’s diversification into aircraft engines during the First World War as well as later engines such as the Sabre and Deltic.
Prints can be ordered in a selection of sizes and finishes. If you need a historic image for an event, publication or for personal use, please take a look and the library team will be happy to supply you with a copy.
Image illustrating the Engineering Your Family History event is courtesy of the IET archive.