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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Act now!

I urge your readers to support the profession’s appeal to save the archive of the Equitable Life Assurance Society. It is of fundamental importance to actuarial history, since it contains the key 18th-century documents on which life assurance is based, still in their original unpublished manuscript form. There will never again be such a splendid opportunity to acquire material which goes to the very heart of the profession’s beginnings.For example, the archive holds James Dodson’s lecture on the mortality basis which should be adopted by The Equitable when calculating its premiums, in which he projects the fund forwards over the next 20 years based on a worst-case scenario where the deaths in the first ten years are relatively heavy. There are also some very important papers by William Morgan, carrying out the early actuarial valuations and discussing the principles involved in the analysis and distribution of surplus. The society’s original minute books and details of individual policyholders provide a rich source for research on early life assurance practice.The name ‘actuary’ for a life assurance official originated with the society, and this underlines the strong connections of the archive with the profession.There is a real danger, however, that the profession, which has many pressing calls on its limited financial resources, will not be able to afford the purchase by the deadline of 31 March 2006. It would be a tragedy if the archive went abroad or was broken up at auction. If the profession were able to secure it, with the help of your readers, we would gradually be able to unlock its secrets and publish the results for the benefit of actuaries everywhere. Even small donations would be of great help, and the appeal asked that cheques (made payable to the Actuarial Profession) should be sent to David Raymont at the Institute with a covering letter.