Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Lawrence Rickard Wager FRS (1904-1965), geologist
|Title:||Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Lawrence Rickard Wager FRS (1904-1965), geologist|
SECTION A BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL NCUACS 84.5.99/A.1-NCUACS 84.5.99/A.133
SECTION B EXPEDITIONS AND RESEARCH NCUACS 84.5.99/B.1-NCUACS 84.5.99/B.478
SECTION C UNIVERSITY OF READING NCUACS 84.5.99/C.1-NCUACS 84.5.99/C.15
SECTION D UNIVERSITY OF DURHAM NCUACS 84.5.99/D.1-NCUACS 84.5.99/D.29
SECTION E UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD NCUACS 84.5.99/E.1-NCUACS 84.5.99/E.73
SECTION F RESEARCH TOPICS NCUACS 84.5.99/F.1-NCUACS 84.5.99/F.39
SECTION G LECTURES, SPEECHES AND ADDRESSES NCUACS 84.5.99/G.1-NCUACS 84.5.99/G.89
SECTION H PUBLICATIONS NCUACS 84.5.99/H.1-NCUACS 84.5.99/H.109
SECTION J SOCIETIES AND ORGANISATIONS NCUACS 84.5.99/J.1-NCUACS 84.5.99/J.27
SECTION K REFERENCES AND RECOMMENDATIONS NCUACS 84.5.99/K.1-NCUACS 84.5.99/K.31
SECTION L CORRESPONDENCE NCUACS 84.5.99/L.1-NCUACS 84.5.99/L.94
SECTION M NON-TEXTUAL MATERIAL NCUACS 84.5.99/M.1-NCUACS 84.5.99/M.117
APPENDIX PERSONAL AND GEOLOGICAL DIARIES NCUACS 84.5.99/APP.1-NCUACS 84.5.99/APP.69
The material is presented as shown in the List of Contents. It covers the period 1904-1985. In addition to the description of the material given below, fuller introductory matter may be found at the beginning of most of the sections.
Section A, Biographical and personal, includes a little material from Wager's schooldays and his early notebooks of natural history and geological observations. His later appointments and applications for posts are also recorded. There is relatively little documentation for the later part of his career. Of interest are the annotated memorabilia of his clubs and societies, the careful account books from early days, and the thoughtful reflections on self-discipline and purpose, written on odd scraps of paper, which add an extra dimension to a controlled personality.
Section B, Expeditions and research, is by far the most extensive in the collection and in addition to a full introduction, has frequent explanatory notes. It is presented alphabetically by territory, East Greenland being the first as well as the most important. The organisation and logistics of expeditions, especially the 1935-1936 East Greenland expedition led by Wager, are chronicled in detail, backed by diaries, reports and later correspondence. The field notebooks, catalogues of rock specimens, and the investigative analysis which continued, in collaboration, for almost thirty years are also recorded. Similar material, in somewhat less detail, is found for other areas, notably the plutonic rocks of Rhum and Skye, and for the Himalayan Geology accomplished on the 1933 Everest expedition. The field excursions for students at Reading, Durham and Oxford Universities are also included.
Section C, University of Reading, is relatively short, coinciding as it did with Wager's main period of exploration and later of war service. The material consists of lecture and teaching notes.
Section D, University of Durham, also consists mainly of teaching material, though it also includes Wager's notes and idea in preparation for his first professorial appointment.
Section E, University of Oxford, is concerned almost entirely with the research and teaching of the Department of Geology and Mineralogy. It includes documentation of the Geological Age and Isotope Research Group (GAIR) that Wager established for the study of geochronology and geochemistry and in which a new graduate course in geochemistry was introduced.
Section F, Research topics, is a short section since most of Wager's research notes and data are dispersed through the collection: the petrographic descriptions and analyses are in Section B, while research undertaken for an important paper or lecture may be included in Sections G and H. Section F includes documentation of a wartime project on biotite and the beginnings of Wager's productive collaboration with R.L. Mitchell on trace elements in the rocks of the Skaergaard Intrusion of East Greenland.
Section G, Lectures, speeches and addresses, covers a wide timespan from talks given as a schoolboy ca 1920 to 1964. They include technical lectures given in UK and abroad on all aspects of Wager's scientific interests in layered intrusions, geochemistry and geochronology, and also many less formal talks to non-professional audiences interested in the expeditions to Greenland and Everest.
Section H, Publications, is of interest in showing Wager's methods of work, constantly revising and redrafting, in his notoriously illegible pencil or ink longhand. There are drafts and correspondence relating to Layered Igneous Rocks, Wager's major collaborative work with G.M. Brown that he did not live to see published. Where applicable reference has been made to the Bibliography in the Memoir of Wager by W.A. Deer ('Lawrence Rickard Wager', Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 13 1967), a copy of which is at NCUACS 84.5.99/A.2. However, not all Wager's published works documented in this collection are to be found in this Bibliography and this additional material has been listed in a bibliographical note appended to the introduction of the catalogue.
Section J, Societies and organisations, is scanty but includes material covering Wager's long service on the Royal Society's British National Committee for Geodesy and Geophysics Vulcanology Sub-committee.
Section K, References and recommendations, covers the period 1945-1965 and relates mainly to academic work.
Section L, Correspondence, is not extensive but contains some personal correspondence from family and friends including Cambridge contemporaries and acquaintances. Most of Wager's scientific correspondence remains with the research or other matters to which it refers.
Section M, Non-textual material, is of considerable interest, containing not only photographs and slides of Wager's expeditions but the original drawings and maps made on his early Greenland visits in 1930-1931 and 1935-1936.
The Appendix lists personal and geological diaries 1925-1964, which currently remain in family hands.
|Held by:||Oxford University: Museum of Natural History, not available at The National Archives|
|Extent:||ca 1,200 items|
The papers were received at various dates 1998-1999 and represent a consolidation of material previously diffused among several sources. Wager had been one of the three scientists chosen in 1969 for the pilot project that led to the formation in 1973 of the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre (now the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists). A selection of his papers and diaries, made and listed by Miss J.M. Pye under the direction of Professor Margaret Gowing, was deposited in the Archives of the Royal Society in 1969. A considerable amount of material was returned at that time to family hands, while much of Wager's research notes, maps and teaching material remained in the Oxford Department of Geology and Mineralogy (now Earth Sciences). With the approval of Mrs Wager and her family, the Council of the Royal Society and the Departmental authorities, all these deposits have been assembled and integrated into the present collection.
OUTLINE OF THE CAREER OF LAWRENCE RICKARD WAGER
Wager was born on 5 February 1904 in Batley, Yorkshire. He was educated at a local elementary school and then at Hebden Bridge United District Grammar School, where his father was Headmaster. Walking, exploring, climbing and early geologising occupied his boyhood, forming his interests and a lasting attachment to the Yorkshire Dales, where he later purchased a house, still in family hands. In 1916, when Wager was twelve, his mother died and in 1919 his father may have been in indifferent health since he was granted a year's leave of absence from teaching, which he spent with the two boys (Wager and his younger brother Hal) in the West Indies. Here climbing, geology and botanising continued. From 1920 to 1923 Wager attended the sixth form of Leeds Grammar School, living with an aunt and uncle (Harold Wager FRS) and obtaining an Exhibition to Pembroke College Cambridge. He read the Natural Sciences Tripos, graduating with a First in Geology in 1926, and began research on Yorkshire Limestones, supported by a Goldsmiths Company Research Scholarship. Throughout his Cambridge period he was an active member of the University Mountaineering Club (President 1925-1926), climbing in Britain and the Alps and establishing a wide reputation for steadiness and a reliable eye for terrain.
His parallel skills as a geologist and climber-explorer were to characterise Wager's career. He was appointed Lecturer in mineralogy and petrology at the University of Reading in 1929 and played his part in teaching and field excursions of the department. But he also participated in the major expeditions that resulted in important scientific discoveries and personal fame. The first of these expeditions, to Greenland in 1930-1931, was the occasion of his recognition and pioneer survey of the igneous intrusions of the East Greenland coastal mountain area between Angmagssalik and Kangerdlugssuaq. The study of this area - reinforced by subsequent expeditions in 1932, 1934, 1935-1936 and 1953 - was the focus of virtually all his scientific research.
The expedition to Everest in 1933 brought a different kind of celebrity. Wager and P. Wyn Harris were chosen to lead the final assault on the summit on 29 May 1933; in adverse weather, they were not successful but they reached a greater height than any previous climbers until the successful ascent by Hilary and Tenzing twenty years later in 1953.
During the Second World War Wager was commissioned in the Royal Air Force and served in the Photographic Interpretation Unit until his release in 1944 to take up the Chair of Geology at the University of Durham. In 1950 he moved to Oxford where he greatly expanded the Department of Geology and Mineralogy. Wager was determined to enhance the status of geology at Oxford and argued for its recognition as a school and entrance subject. He also established the Geological Age and Isotope Research Group (GAIR) for the study of geochronology and geochemistry, in which a new graduate course was introduced.
Wager died very suddenly on 20 November 1965 at the relatively early age of sixty-one.
In 1934 Wager married Phyllis Margaret Worthington, who achieved a notable 'first' in accompanying him to East Greenland on the 1935-1936 expedition, which he led; she and her sister-in-law (Hal Wager's wife Kit) became the first British women to over-winter there.
Wager was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1946. He received many medals and honours: the Polar Medal 1933, the Mungo Park Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society 1936, the Bigsby Medal of the Geological Society of London 1945, the Spendiarov Prize of the International Geological Congress 1948 and the Lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London 1962.
Wager, a reticent man, answered to several names. His given name, Lawrence, was used by his immediate family and less generally by university colleagues; more formal colleagues of an earlier generation preferred the surname Wager; in his department he was 'Prof' or 'LRW'; Oxbridge and mountaineering friends of the 1920s and 1930s use the affectionate 'Waggers' characteristic of the period; more confusingly, his brother-in-law E.B. Worthington bestowed on him the name 'Bill', originally to be used on his Morris Dancing excursions, and this became his most usual name for the rest of his life among both family and friends, although Wager apparently regretted it. For a time, at Reading, he was nicknamed 'George', but this was a short-lived complication.
|Conditions of access:||
NOT ALL THE MATERIAL IN THIS COLLECTION MAY YET BE AVAILABLE FOR CONSULTATION. ENQUIRIES SHOULD BE ADDRESSED IN THE FIRST INSTANCE TO
OXFORD UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
OXFORD OX1 3PW
Compiled by: Jeannine Alton, Timothy E. Powell and Nicola Ashbridge
The work of the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, and the production of this catalogue, are made possible by the support of the following societies and organisations
The Biochemical Society
The Geological Society
The Higher Education Funding Council for England
The Institute of Physics
The Royal Society
Trinity College Cambridge
The Wellcome Trust
We are pleased to acknowledge help from many sources in assembling and processing the material.
Mrs Wager and her family have been very positive in making material available and in offering information. They have all taken an interest in the progress of the work, and in the case of Jane Hargreaves have spent much time identifying drafts and photographs.
At the Oxford University Museum of Natural History Professor W.J. Kennedy, Ms S.M. Brecknell, Miss M.T. Price and Mr R. Hall have all been very helpful.
Special thanks are due to Professor E.A. Vincent, a long-term friend and collaborator of Wager from his time at Reading onward. He has made available his unique fund of knowledge and his phenomenal memory in regular visits throughout the work, and his careful scrutiny of the drafts and index has been of inestimable value."
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