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The Papers of the Sedgwick Club

Reference Code: GBR/590/SGWC

Scope and Contents

The Sedgwick Club Archive contains administrative documents including minute books, 1880-1926; financial records, 1880-1989; handwritten copies of papers given at meetings, 1880-; excursion scrapbooks, 1882 to 1950; social events records including menu cards; copies of club photographs 1900-1974 [NB: a full set of club photographs are on display in Cambridge University Department of Earth Sciences] and digitized copies of all group photographs [until 2016].


  • Creation: 1880 - 2020

Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for consultation by researchers using Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. Some scrapbooks are damaged and access is now restricted. The Collections Research Centre [West Cambridge] is open from Monday to Friday, 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00. A prior appointment made at least two weeks in advance, and two forms of identification are required.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies, photographs, and print-outs from scanned images are permitted. Charges may apply. Readers may also use their own digital cameras subject to copyright legislation and in-house rules. Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Museum Staff.

Biographical / Historical

The Sedgwick Club was founded in memory of Professor Adam Sedgwick in 1880 and still meets today. At the first meeting on Saturday 13th March 1880 in rooms at St John’s College, it was resolved that a club should be formed; ‘the object of the club be to promote the study of geology by the reading and discussion of papers thereof’.

The club was originally very exclusive with only 10 members (increased to 12 plus upto 6 women in January 1896). Temporary members had to be introduced and then balloted for- which had to be unanimous.

Almost every year after its foundation the Sedgwick Club run yearly field excursions and from these trips sets of notes, photos, sketches, maps and diagrams were created. Many of the albums also contain telegrams sent to the group detailing sporting outcomes including the Oxbridge boat race and cricket matches.

The annual field trip has been subsequently replaced by the "Magical Mystery Tour" in modern times, which involves a weekend excursion at the beginning of Lent term (October) to an unknown location.

In the early days of the club's history papers were read at meetings by undergraduates. This was later extended to include research students, faculty members and in recent times outside speakers. These were deposited in the Sedgwick Club tin trunk, which is still in use today. The papers appear to be quite long, and according to the minutes there appeared to be a high level of discussion which followed them.

Many famous people have passed through the Club. Miss Gertie Elles is famous for her study of Graptolites and how they could be used to demonstrate how detailed morphology, on well controlled palaeontological sequences, could be made to reveal refined stratigraphic results. Miss Elles took part in many of the Club's annual field trips and appears throughout her life in many of the journals and photo albums. Other distinguished members include: Dr John Edward Marr, famous for his work on the Lake District; Professor Thomas McKenny Hughes who supervised the building of the Sedgwick Museum; Dr Alfred Harker a petrologist whose collection is the backbone of the Harker Collection of Rocks and Minerals held in the museum; Professor William Watts, President of Imperial University of Science and Technology 1934-1936; and Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster and naturalist.

In 1996 the Club performed an exchange with a student group of Geologists in Suriname called GEM. Unfortunately GEM were unable to return the visit and the scheme collapsed. However, the plaque to commemorate this visit is displayed in the Department of Earth Sciences John Watson Building Stones Gallery to this day.

In the Michaelmas and Lent terms the Sedgwick Club hosts a series of weekly talks about different aspects of geology. The talks are held in the Harker Lecture rooms in the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge.

Current club membership gets members free entry to talks and exclusive access to a Facebook group where details of Sedgwick Club social events (curries, pizza nights, nights out) are posted. Members can also attend the Magical Mystery Tour weekend.

The Sedgwick Club website includes information about the club's current activities


34 archive box(es)

Language of Materials



There was no original order of the Club records. They were found in chronological order in map cabinets by the Archivist in 2010.

The collection has been arranged into 4 series to reflect the records and work undertaken by the Sedgwick Club in the past and its activities today.

SGWC 1 Administration and Committees 1/1 Minute Books 1/2 Accounts SGWC 2 Activities and Events 2/1 Talks 1880- 2/2 Field Trips 2/3 Social Events SGWC 3 Publications SGWC 4 Photographs 4/1 Photographs (original) 4/2 Digital Copies

  1. Administration and Committees
  2. Activities and Events
  3. Publications
  4. Photographs

Custodial History

Sedgwick Club records were recovered from the Sedgwick Museum attic stores by the Conservator, Sarah Finney between 2003-2010. They were later transferred to the AG Brighton Building.

Existence and Location of Originals

A Sedgwick Club photograph (1932) is located at St Johns College, University of Cambridge

Existence and Location of Copies

There are digital copies of Sedgwick Club group photographs, 1885-2013. Please ask staff for more information about access to these.

Related Materials

There are photographs of Sedgwick Club excursions in the papers of of Edwin Arthur Peters (ref: PTRS) and Tressilian Charles Nicholas (ref: NCLS).

In Progress
Sandra Freshney, Dr Lyall Anderson, Cherry Booth and Janet Bayliss
January 2011
Description rules
International Standard for Archival Description - General
Language of description
Script of description
Latin (Gaelic variant)
Museums, Libraries & Archives Council Designation Development Fund (Renaissance)

Repository Details

Part of the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences Repository

A.G Brighton & Colin Forbes Building
Madingley Rise
Madingley Road
Cambridge CB3 0EZ United Kingdom
+441223 765717