Introduction to the RTS Archives

The archive collections of the Royal Television Society reflect the history of the Society from its foundation in 1927 to the present day. The Society began as a meeting place for television engineers, and the earliest records chart the birth of television and document the pioneering work of, amongst others, John Logie Baird. For 40 years the Society held regular meetings throughout the country where lectures were presented on the latest technical developments of the television receiver. The importance of these lectures was acknowledged with awards from the television companies. These awards have since grown to become a key feature of the Society’s work.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the television community shifted from being one of engineers to one of programme makers. The Society broadened to become an independent forum by hosting regular symposia on topical subjects which members from all the different television companies could come together to talk about. These symposia continue today to be an essential focus for the television community.

The archives of the Society document its history from 1927 to today and provide a resource for historians and members researching the diverse aspects of the history of the television. The archive holds written, photographic and audio-visual material. The majority of the collections are housed in stores off-site, but can be accessed with reasonable notice.

In addition to maintaining the archive and answering enquiries, the Archivist co-ordinates applications for the Shiers Trust, an annual research award for the history of television, and represents the Society on its History and Archives Group.

The archive is open to everyone (non-members, members and academic researchers) by appointment with the Archivist. There is no charge to consult the archive collections, but charges are made for reprographic services.