Posted by on 6 June 2013 in General, Guest Bloggers, Record Collections

At the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, we aim to improve the world through engineering.

Our membership has reflected the advances in technology and living standards since the start of the industrial revolution.  The brilliant engineering feats of our members since we formed in 1847 have helped engineer and shape the world we live in today.

Engineering is all around us. Transport, energy, manufacturing, communications, and even the clean water in your kitchen tap all come from the work of engineers.

This is why we’re so excited that Ancestry.co.uk has digitised so many of our historic records. This archive will be an excellent resource that will help us celebrate engineers and their achievements throughout this 110-year period.

In total, 74,258 records have been digitised. These include the membership of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 1870-1930, and also those of the Institution of Automobile Engineers (IAE) and the Institution of Locomotive Engineers, which merged with us.

The records include many famous engineering pioneers. Among these are Nigel Gresley, who designed the Mallard, the fastest engineering steam locomotive; Frederick Lanchester who made the first English car; William Siemens, founder of Siemens brothers and Hiram Maxim, inventor of the machine gun.

 Nigel Gresley

The register of members is the original list of members and records all the changes – so you can see when they joined, graduated, were promoted, emigrated, defaulted or died.

You can see from these records that our members often took their engineering expertise overseas, building infrastructure and pioneering modern techniques all over the world.  Often families can trace their move from England back to these engineering pioneers.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the archive is the level to which a member’s career and education is detailed.  You can see who proposed members -  for example, the first female member of the Institution, Verena Holmes, was proposed by Charles Parsons, the inventor of the steam turbine.

The full archive of the Institution includes  personal papers of prominent mechanical engineers such as George and Robert Stephenson. Drawing collections range from technical plans to illustrations and company records span from the earliest steam railway companies to D. Napier & Son (engine builders).

We are delighted that this important 1870 – 1930 archive is available for people to use on Ancestry.co.uk and hope it not only highlights great stories from the past, but also helps inspire the next generation of engineers.

To find out more about the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and their collections click here.

To search all occupation and employment records on Ancestry click here

Authored by Daniel Hearn from IMechE.

Images are reproduced by courtesy of IMechE.

About Emma

Emma Pulman is a Social Media and digital Marketing Executive for Ancestry.co.uk. Based in Ancestry's London office in Hammersmith, Emma regularly tweets and posts on Ancestry's Facebook page.