The material is presented as shown in the List of Contents. Additional explanatory notes, information and cross-references are appended where appropriate to the separate sections, sub-sections and individual entries in the body of the catalogue. The following paragraphs are intended only to draw attention to items of particular interest.
Section A, Biographical and autobiographical, documents most stages of Kennedy's scientific career from the 1930s, including his wartime service, his period at Cambridge and subsequent moves to Imperial College and Oxford. There is virtually no personal material about Kennedy himself, but there are a few items relating to his parents and to his father's 'Vertical Lifter Aircraft' which Kennedy attempted to promote at the very end of his life. This section also includes Kennedy's own autobiographical notes, which have been drawn on in compiling this account.
Section B, Research, presents the material alphabetically by topic. It includes notebooks, notes, diagrams and drafts and, for some topics, considerable correspondence. The timespan is wide, ranging from photographs and observations in Albania in 1939 to the drafts and exchanges of ideas leading up to his 1992 book The new anthropomorphism. Kennedy had a well-deserved reputation for devising experimental techniques and apparatus such as windtunnels and carousels. These are not documented other than by the photographs in Section J.
Section C, Imperial College London, includes material relating to Kennedy's move to the College and as a senior ARC staff member. See the introductory note to the section. There is also material on several collaborative research projects.
Section D, Lectures, papers, broadcasts, covers a considerable time-span, 1936-1987, and addresses a very wide spectrum of audience from informal college or departmental talks to specialist conferences. Kennedy gave several radio talks on locusts and aphids, though he does not seem to have been a natural broadcaster.
Section E, Publications. Kennedy's bibliography included at A.2 lists 110 publications. Few of them are documented in this short section, which does however include a few items not listed there. The publication history of The new anthropomorphism is recorded here.
Section F, Societies and organisations. Kennedy's involvement with professional organisations was kept deliberately restricted in order not to interfere with research time, though he had a long-standing connection with the Anti-Locust Research Centre and, after 1965, participated in the affairs of the Royal Society.
Section G, Correspondence, is the most substantial of the collection, of interest both for the intensity of the scientific exchanges and also for some of the long-term sequences with friends and colleagues such as D.L. Gunn and V.B. Wigglesworth as well as with many overseas correspondents. The introductory note to the section describes in more detail the content and 2interest of the material.
Section H, References and recommendations, is another substantial section. In addition to many grant applications which Kennedy refereed for UK and overseas institutions, there is an extensive section (with an introductory note) relating to his work for journals and publishing houses in careful comments and assessments of work submitted.
Section J, Photographs. Of special interest are the many photographs taken 1942-1944 of the work of the Middle East Anti-Locust Unit. There are also photographs of windtunnels, and several group photographs of meetings and symposia.
It will be seen that the collection well reflects Kennedy's unbroken commitment to research, which he insisted was for him the only worthwhile activity. Teaching and administration were avoided or kept to the minimum acceptable. Participation in the activities of learned or professional groups, including editorial boards, was similarly restricted. There is for example no section on conferences in the collection, though Kennedy did attend such gatherings from time to time and gave several of the lectures in Section D at them; his own preference, however, was for small congenial meetings at the Cambridge 'Bun Shop' (a pub near the Department) or practical small-scale discussions in the laboratory. He was insistent on the publication of new findings when he was satisfied that they were scientifically adequate, and held colleagues and research students to the same course, expressing disappointment when work was delayed. From earliest days his avowed aims, which he thought he had found in Marxism, were accuracy and objectivity. They made him a fearsome antagonist in oral or written argument where he could be disconcertingly clinical in exposing unsound work, or could press for clarification with logic-chopping rationalism. On more than one occasion he described himself as a 'cold fish' and claimed to have difficulty in expressing emotion.
Yet this is a partial, indeed a misleading view. His temperament was in many ways that of an enthusiast. His quest for 'truth' in his chosen field of animal behaviour was a lifelong passion which could lead him to overstate a case - which he would quickly acknowledge and withdraw if contrary evidence were forthcoming. His letters often pour out his ideas and ask for reciprocity with an almost endearing frankness. He went to great trouble with visitors and students. He and his wife Claudette extended warm friendly hospitality in their home to innumerable colleagues.
In his autobiographical notes Kennedy quotes V.B. Wigglesworth's description of him: 'a disinterested soul'. This enigmatic statement is perhaps the wisest conclusion.