Keepers of Information

Archives at the BGS

BGS science is supported by the quality of its records, data and collections, whether they are digital records, books, paper records, archives, fossils or core samples.

Some of the key areas within the BGS that maintain and manage information are described below.

Archives

The BGS archives collection dates back to before the start of the Survey in 1835.

It includes the administrative and operational records of the Geological Survey, including correspondence and minute books with details of staffing and survey practice, as well as many geologists' working papers and diaries.

There are also large collections relating to the Overseas Geological Survey and to mineral resources.

Library

Over the last 170 years the British Geological Survey Library has grown and developed into one of the world's major earth science libraries. We have extensive collections of books, maps, journals and BGS publications.

Trenham Reeks — the first librarian

Trenham Reeks - the first librarian

Reeks was born in 1823. He was appointed Assistant Curator of the Museum of Economic Geology in 1839 and Curator and Librarian in 1851. He was also Registrar of the Royal School of Mines, 1851–1879; he died on 5 May 1879.

His obituary in Nature described:

'the little, rather dingy room in which for well nigh thirty years, he has sat amidst blue-books, calendars, mineralogical specimens, and a rather orderly chaos of miscellaneous objects.'

The collection at BGS contains two letters to Reeks from Charles Darwin.

The collection at BGS contains two letters to Reeks from Charles Darwin.

The collection at BGS contains two letters to Reeks from Charles Darwin.

The collection at BGS contains two letters to Reeks from Charles Darwin.The collection at BGS contains two letters to Reeks from Charles Darwin.

Transcripts of these letters, part of the Darwin Correspondence Project, are available:

Records Centre

The National Geological Records Centre (NGRC) holds a comprehensive collection of geological and environmental information on the surface and subsurface of Great Britain, and offshore, which is available to the public, industry and academia.

The Data Centre manages earth science datasets, physical collections, records and other information gathered or generated by the BGS, or its precursors, in addition to data provided by external organisations.

Palaeontology Collections

Fossil

When fossils are present in samples that have been collected, the Geological Survey frequently uses them to date the rock.

We have a collection of over 3 000 000 fossils from across the Britain.

Materials Collections

Core store

The BGS operates the largest core facility in the UK at Keyworth, Nottingham.

It has recently been extended and now has space for over 18 000 pallets of drillcore and 80 000 trays of samples, weighing up to 10 000 tons.

Museum of Practical Geology

Painting of the Museum of practical Geology by J.P. Emslie, 1875 [IGS1/897]

In August 1835, De la Beche obtained funding from the Board of Works to establish a museum at Craig's Court, Whitehall, London; the Museum of Economic Geology was opened in 1841.

One of its most important acquisitions was some building stones proposed for the new Houses of Parliament.