Catalogue description Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of SYDNEY CHAPMAN, FRS (1888-1970)

This record is held by Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections

Details of CSAC 11.5.74
Reference: CSAC 11.5.74
Title: Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of SYDNEY CHAPMAN, FRS (1888-1970)

The papers consist mainly of biographical information assembled by Professor T.G.Cowling for his Royal Society Memoir of Chapman. Professor Cowling's explanatory letter about the material is enclosed in Item 2.


There is a small number of letters exchanged between Chapman and Cowling.


Chapman's printed and manuscript work is collected in various libraries and institutes in the United States. A detailed memorandum on the location of the collection appears on pages 2 and 3.


Compiled by Jeannine Alton and Harriot Weiskittel

Related material:

Note: a full list of Chapman's Honours appears in the Royal Society Memoir in Item 1, pp 73 - 74


See also 1968 Sydney Chapman, 80, from his friends; a volume of tributes, with auto biographical essays.

Held by: Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Chapman, Sydney, 1888-1970, scientist, mathematical physicist and geophysicist

Custodial history:

28 May 1971


MEMO TO: Walter Roberts


FROM: Keith Watson


SUBJECT: Disposition of Sydney Chapman's Scientific Materials


The disposition of Sydney Chapman's scientific papers, books, journals, correspondence, etc. has been made according to the following plan. Prior to any action being taken this plan was circulated to Mr. Cecil Chapman - Sydney's son, Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu and Dr. Keith B. Mather of the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska, and Dr. Gordon Newkirk of the High Altitude Observatory. These people all have expressed their agreement with the proposed disposition of the items.


1) The complete collection of scientific papers authored by Sydney and his collaborators has been sent to the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, for archiving. The Institute will microfilm the papers, and one copy of the film will be kept at HAO. HAO and the Institute will share equally the cost of the microfilming.


2) Scientific papers (reprints) by other authors but belonging to Sydney have been sent to the Geophysical Institute.


3) Books authored by Sydney, i.e., Geomagnetism and Mathematical Theory of Non-Uniform Gases, which were his personal copies used at HAO have been sent to Cecil Chapman in England.


4) Hard bound old books that belonged to Mrs. Katherine Chapman have been sent to Cecil Chapman.


5) The remaining scientific books have been distributed as needed first to the HAO library, then to the NCAR library, and then to the Geophysical Institute.


6) Duplicate copies of Sydney's authored papers have been kept by HAO as part of the organizations reprint files for distribution to those requesting them.


7) The complete correspondence files have been sent to the Geophysical Institute where they will be permanently archived. The Institute will microfilm the files, and one copy of the film will be kept at NCAR. HAO and the Institute will share equally the expense of the microfilming.


Certain personal files have been removed and destroyed by Doris Fisher at the request of Cecil Chapman.


Certain other files relating to the Geomagnetic Source Book that was being jointly authored by Sydney and David G. Knapp have been sent to Mr. Knapp at the National Ocean Survey, Rockville, Maryland. This step was taken, with Cecil Chapman's concurrence, to allow Mr. Knapp to complete the nearly finished manuscript for the book.


Access to the archived correspondence files may be granted to qualified historians or biographers, but Cecil Chapman requests that the Family be notified of such access. In particular he requests that he have the opportunity to contact potential biographers before authorization is granted for access to the correspondence by anyone wishing to write a detailed biography of Sydney or desiring extensively to quote from the correspondence.


8) The negatives and such descriptive material as is available of slides that Sydney used in scientific talks have been sent to the Geophysical Institute for inclusion in the archive material. Duplicate negatives of two photos of Sydney taken by the HAO photographer have also been sent - the original negatives will remain at HAO.


9) At the request of Cecil Chapman the various academic hoods (University of Colorado, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Sorbonne) and medals (Eccles, University of Paris, Hodgkins, American Meteorological Society) that belonged to Sydney will be given temporarily to Walter Roberts, who will determine their disposition.


10) Sydney's extensive collection of scientific journals has been distributed as needed to the HAO and NCAR libraries. The remaining journals (most of the original collection, in fact) have been sent to Books. For Asian Students for use by Mr. Phil Seon Rim, Ministry of Communications, Seoul, Korea. This collection was offered to Dr. A. A. Ashour of the University of Cairo, Giza, Egypt, and then to the Geophysical Institute in Alaska prior to being offered to Mr. Rim.

Administrative / biographical background:

Summary of the career of Sydney Chapman.


b. 1888


1902 Royal Technical Institute, Salford (now University of Salford)


1904 Manchester University, B.Sc.Engineering (1907), Mathematics (1908)


1908 Trinity College, Cambridge


1910 - 14 Senior Assistant, Royal Observatory, Greenwich


1913 Smith's Prizeman, Cambridge


Research Fellow (non-resident) Trinity College, Cambridge


1914 Lecturer, Trinity College, Cambridge


1916 - 18 Greenwich Observatory (Honorary)


1919 Fellow of the Royal Society


1919 - 24 Professor of Mathematics, Manchester University


1922 Marries K.N.Steinthal (d. 1967)


1924 - 46 Professor of Mathematics, Imperial College, London


1928 Adams Prize Essay, Cambridge University


1931 Bakerian Lecturer, Royal Society


1934 Royal Medal, Royal Society


1946 - 53 Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy, Oxford


Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford


1953 - Advisory Scientific Director, Geophysical Institute, Alaska


1955 - High Altitude Observatory, Boulder, Colorado


1953 - 59 President, Organising Committee, International Geophysical Year (1957 - 58)


1964 Copley Medal, Royal Society.

Link to NRA Record:

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