Ref no32079
TitleRecords of the Bristol Institution for the Advancement of Science, Literature and the Arts, the Bristol Library Society, and the Bristol Museum and Library
Date1700s-1950s
DescriptionThe collection comprises the formal records of the predecessors of Bristol Museum - the Library Society, the Bristol Institution for the Advancement of Science, Literature and the Arts, and the Bristol Museum and Library. It also includes miscellaneous historical documents deposited with Bristol Museum at various times and consists mainly of letters, signatures, sale particulars and odd election papers. In a number of cases, the records of the latter are continued in volumes formerly used by the Institution.
LevelCollection
Extent4 shelves
Administrative historyThe Bristol Library Society was established in 1772 to set up a subscription library. It took over the premises in King Street and the collection of books belonging to the old City Library. The society flourished, with a full-time librarian, increasing stock and such distinguished members as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Sir Humphrey Davy. The society built a new wing to its premises in 1786 but again lacking space in 1808, it formed an undertaking with the Philosophical and Literary Society to erect a building for their joint use, with a committee to supervise and members of both societies buying shares in the new building. Long before the building was completed, the Library Society, feeling its independence threatened, withdrew from the project. When the new building was finally completed in Park Street, in order to utilise it fully the shareholders decided in 1823 to establish an institution for the advancement of science, literature and the arts, which would have its own museum and library. The Philosophical and Literary Society continued as a separate body, but associated to the Institution.

In 1867, the proposal for the Library Society and the Institution to merge their resources and erect a new building was again raised; the Institution building in Park Street was too small and the Library Society was at this date in rented accommodation in Queen's Road. This time the plan was effected, a new building was put up in Queen's Road and in 1871 the two organisations amalgamated, becoming the Bristol Museum and Library.

On 1 July 1893, under the Museums and Gymnasiums Act, the museum and library ceased to be a private organisation and it was transferred to the authority of the City and County of Bristol. In 1905, the library was incorporated into the city's public library system.
ArrangementGrouped by organisation as follows:
1-141: The Bristol Institution for the Advancement of Science, Literature and the Arts
142-152: The Philosophical and Literary Society, attached to the Bristol Institution
153-160: The Bristol Library Society
161-209: The Bristol Museum and Library
200-201: British Association for the Advancement of Science
202-226: Miscellaneous documents
227-237: Notes and lists of objects forming part of the Institution's museum collection
238-256: Records transferred from Bristol Reference Library in 2017 relating to the organisations
Custodial historyItems 1-226 deposited with the Bristol Archives Office by Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in 1972. Items 227-237 unknown, c. 2014. Items 238-256 transferred from Bristol Reference Library in 2017, with library references recorded in AltRefNo field.
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