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Archival description

The Design Section exists to promote the importance of design and encourages a high standard within it. The Design Section's governing body acts as an advisor to the RSA's Programme Committee, is a source of ideas for RSA future programme, reviews current design projects, and evaluates the quality of the RSA Programme work in design. \n\nDesign administers/administered the following projects and initiatives: Student Design Awards, successor of the Design Bursaries Competition; Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry; Bicentenary Medal; New Design for old/Design for Ageing Network; Young Designers into Industry Scheme; Medic Design Awards; Presidential Award for Design Management; and various other competitions such as the competition for a drinking fountain design and 'Youth looks at Britain' Poster Competition.

Early Library

A collection of printed books acquired by the Society before 1850 (though there are a few exceptions). They relate to the Society's early interests in arts, manufactures and commerce.\n\nThis collection of mainly printed material was acquired by collection and donation from various sources. The topics covered in the publications are broad-ranging but relate closely to premiums and awards of the various sectional committees: Agriculture, Polite Arts, Chemistry, Manufactures, Mechanics and Colonies and Trade. Some publications are extracts from proceedings of other societies and learned institutions. \n\nA few pamphlets and tracts in French, and some in German, Spanish and Latin. The majority of the publications are also available at the British Library. There appears to have been no clear order or arrangement of this material prior to cataloguing in 2002.


The Society were the pioneers in instituting Technological Examinations in 1873. In 1879, on the foundation of the City and Guilds of London Institute, the Technological Examinations were handed over to that body. Since that date, the examinations were established largely for purely commercial subjects and modern languages.

Exhibitions Collection

A collection of printed books acquired by the Society by gift and purchase about international trade exhibitions. It includes exhibitons in which the Society played no part and covers the period 1851 to 1951. The collection comprises contemporary catalogues, reports of Juries and other printed accounts of exhibitions. It also includes a number of printed booklets, pamphlets and maps and some more recent general works on exhibitions. Catalogues are in order of date of exhibition.


Information on Fellows has been gathered since foundation of the Society, although this has always been for administrative/financial reasons. Membership lists do not include any further biographical information. Subscribers to the Society were originally termed 'members'. From 1914, members were referred to as 'Fellows'.\n\nFellowship lists exist in various formats:\nSubscription lists (manuscript) from 1754 to 1986: early volumes are bound, late 20th century ledgers are loose leaf. There are gaps.\nPrinted lists of Members/Fellows also appear bound into the volumes of Transactions, later the Journal, for most years. In the 1970s and 80s, separate printed lists were published.\nInformation contained in lists includes name and usually address, date of election and year of resignation ('declined') or death, if specifically noted. early lists include details of proposer and some also include Member's area of interest or profession.\n\n