Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of SIR GORDON BRIMS BLACK McIVOR SUTHERLAND, FRS; (1907 - 1980)

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This record is held by Cambridge University Library: Department of Manuscripts and University Archives

Details of Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of SIR GORDON BRIMS BLACK McIVOR SUTHERLAND, FRS; (1907 - 1980)
Title: Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of SIR GORDON BRIMS BLACK McIVOR SUTHERLAND, FRS; (1907 - 1980)
Reference: CSAC 89.7.82
Description:

SECTION A BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL A.1 - A.53

 

SECTION B EARLY INFRARED RESEARCH B.1 - B.92

 

SECTION C THE NATIONAL PHYSICAL LABORATORY C.1 - C.52

 

SECTION D COMMITTEES, SOCIETIES, ORGANISATIONS D.1 - D.58

 

SECTION E EDUCATION AND SCIENCE POLICY E.1 - E.47

 

SECTION F VISITS AND CONFERENCES F.1 - F.48

 

SECTION G DRAFTS, LECTURES, PUBLICATIONS G.1 - G.65

 

SECTION H GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE H.1 - H.45

 

The surviving papers provide some documentation for most aspects of Sutherland's career, apart from his two periods at the University of Michigan for which there is virtually nothing. For the 1930s there is extensive correspondence but no laboratory records, and the wartime period is enriched by a very full sequence of letters exchanged with H.W. Thompson, 1937 - 47. Section C contains some interesting papers relating to the NPL, and Section D, which documents Sutherland's involvement with various societies and organisations, has considerable material on the formation of the International Organisation for Pure and Applied Biophysics in which Sutherland played a major part.

 

Section E contains correspondence on issues of science policy as well as Sutherland's own drafts and reports. The correspondence in Section H dates mainly from Sutherland's period at the NPL, all earlier letters being in Section B.

 

Some of Sutherland's ms. and typescript drafts are identified with a reference in the form Bibliog .... This refers to the list of publications included in the Memoir of Sutherland by N. Sheppard (Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 28, 1982).

Date: 1921 - 1982
Held by: Cambridge University Library: Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English
Extent: 29 boxes
Administrative History:

Gordon Brims Black Mclvor Sutherland was born in Caithness, Scotland, in 1907. He was educated at Morgan Academy, Dundee, and St. Andrews University from which he graduated with an M.A. in mathematics and B.Sc. in physics in 1929. The following two years were spent in Cambridge where he decided to abandon theoretical physics in favour of experimental work on infrared spectra, an interest which continued throughout his research career.

 

During his second year at Cambridge Sutherland met D.M. Dennison and this prompted him to apply for a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship to work under Dennison at the University of Michigan which was then the most advanced centre in the world for the study of infrared spectroscopy. He spent two years at Michigan, returning to Cambridge in autumn 1933.

 

After obtaining his Ph. D. degree in 1934 Sutherland remained in Cambridge working first with W.G. Penney on the problem of the structure of the hydrogen peroxide molecule, and then with various research students including G.K.T. Conn, M.M. Davies, E. Lee and C.K. Wu. During the Second World War he began by working for the Ministry of Supply on unexploded bombs but in 1941 he returned to Cambridge to develop the use of infrared spectroscopy in the analysis of 'enemy' fuels which his team undertook in collaboration with H.W. Thompson at Oxford.

 

In 1949 Sutherland returned to the University of Michigan as Professor of Physics where he built up a successful infrared research group with a strong emphasis on biophysical studies. In 1956 he was appointed as Director of the National Physical Laboratory in succession to Sir Edward Bullard, where he remained until 1964 when he became Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. The pressures of administrative work at the NPL allowed little time for Sutherland to pursue his personal research interests, but his position as head of a large government laboratory and then of a Cambridge College encouraged a growing interest in the wider issues of science policy and education on which he wrote, lectured and chaired committees throughout the 1960s. He died in 1980, three years after his retirement from Emmanuel.

Subjects:
  • Physics
Creator Names:
  • Sutherland, Sir, Gordon Brims Black McIvor, 1907-1980, knight, physicist
Immediate Source Of Acquisition:
  • The material was received from Lady Sutherland and from Professor N. Sheppard FRS who contributed some additional material, mainly correspondence received in connection with his Memoir of Sutherland for the Royal Society.

Conditions of access:

NOT ALL THE MATERIAL IN THE COLLECTION IS YET AVAILABLE FOR CONSULTATION.

 

ENQUIRIES SHOULD BE ADDRESSED IN THE FIRST INSTANCE TO:

 

THE LIBRARIAN,

 

UNIVERSITY LIBRARY,

 

CAMBRIDGE.

Note:

Compiled by: Jeannine Alton

 

Julia Latham- Jackson

 

The work of the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre, and the production of this catalogue, are made possible by the support of the following societies and institutions:

 

The Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland

 

The Biochemical Society

 

The British Pharmacological Society

 

The Charles Babbage Foundation for the History of Information Processing

 

The Institute of Physics

 

The Institution of Electrical Engineers

 

The Nuffield Foundation

 

The Physiological Society

 

The Royal Society of London

 

We are grateful to Lady Sutherland for making the papers available, and to Professor N. Sheppard FRS and Professor D.E. Blackwell for help and advice.

"
Related Material:
  • Specimens and correspondence relating to Sutherland's work on diamond are held at the Institute of Geological Sciences (Geological Museum), South Kensington, London.

     

    Material relating to Sutherland's service on two Cambridge University Committees (Joint Committee on Student Numbers and Committee of the General Board on Long-Term Development) has been deposited in the University Archives, Cambridge.

     

    A little personal material is held by Lady Sutherland.

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