SECTION A BIOGRAPHICAL NCUACS94.7.00/A.1-A.221
SECTION B RESEARCH AND CONSULTANCY NCUACS94.7.00/B.1-B.3578
SECTION C PUBLICATIONS, PATENTS AND LECTURES NCUACS94.7.00/C.1-C.38
SECTION D FINANCIAL PAPERS NCUACS94.7.00/D.1-D.437
SECTION E CORRESPONDENCE NCUACS94.7.00/E.1-E.1241
The material in the collection covers the period ca 1891-1965 and is presented in five sections.
Section A, Biographical, covers the period ca 1891-1960. There are lecture notebooks from Silberrad's years at Finsbury Technical College, a childhood natural history notebook with sketches, and diaries dating from 1912 to 1926. Of especial interest are drafts of an unpublished biography of Silberrad by his sister Dora and of a revised version by the Hon. Hugh Fletcher Moulton. Included in the book are quotes from memoirs written by Silberrad; some are particularly valuable for the light they shed on his work at the Research Department, Woolwich, and his relations with the War Office. A group of correspondence with prominent scientists, 1918-1921, relates to his unsuccessful candidature for Fellowship of the Royal Society. A series of career files, mostly of miscellaneous material, includes testimonials written by college and university tutors and superiors in organisations in which he was employed. There is also a draft of a book (apparently unpublished) of fairy tales for children written by Silberrad and his sister Phyllis.
Section B, Research and consultancy, is extensive and covers the period 1898-1959. It provides significant documentation of much of Silberrad's wide-ranging consultancy work for industry and the government, his patenting of discoveries and business interests. Little material, however, survives from his years at the Research Department, Woolwich. Large groups of correspondence and papers relate to his research on the erosion of ships' propellers and his innovative work on explosives during the period 1911 to 1918 which included the development of ammonium perchlorate dynamites, the 'Hotchkiss-Silberrad Fuse' and a 'flashless' artillery powder. Among the correspondents during the years 1915 to 1918 are Lord Moulton, the War Office and other government departments. Silberrad's involvement in Ergite Ltd is well documented among the papers relating to dynamites. Other topics covered in this section include the manufacture of dyestuffs and cellulose acetate and research on an erosion-resisting gunsteel. There is a series of forty notebooks, 1904-ca 1951, containing details of various experimental work with analysis. A few earlier lecture notebooks date from his years as a student at the University of Würzburg. Other papers document legal cases arising from a few of Silberrad's consulting posts and some in which he appeared as an expert witness. There are also more than one hundred photographic prints, the greater part showing experiments with the 'flashless' artillery powder he developed between 1915 and 1917. Others show laboratories and buildings at Woolwich, 1901-1906. Silberrad's own laboratories in their early development, and the results obtained by blasting with his new dynamites.
Section C, Publications, patents and lectures, is slight. The publications material includes Silberrad's printed treatise on the stability of nitro-cellulose, 1904, and a draft of an article on artificial rubber which appeared in a German publication. Sets of original patents obtained by Silberrad in Great Britain and overseas cover the period 1910 to 1942. There are drafts of three lectures by him of which one can probably be dated to 1902-1906. No significant details concerning the relevant venues or occasions for these exist.
Section D, Financial papers, comprises income tax papers, account books and receipts etc, dating from 1905 to the years immediately after his death in 1960. The material relates to both Silberrad's private financial affairs and the business of the Silberrad Research Laboratories.
Section E, Correspondence, is extensive, and illustrates the diversity of Silberrad's research, consulting and business interests. The main series, 1905-1951, is arranged alphabetically by correspondent within each year. The correspondents are chiefly scientists, including Sir Phillip Watts, Sir William Crookes, Cecil Desch and Sir Andrew Noble, family members, principally his brothers Charles and Harold, companies for which he worked, patent agents, solicitors and suppliers. There is also a small group of miscellaneous correspondence, 1922-1926, n.d., which was separated from the above sequence.