Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of James Marmaduke Edmonds (1909-1982), geologist
|Title:||Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of James Marmaduke Edmonds (1909-1982), geologist|
SECTION A BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL NCUACS 77.6.98/A.1-NCUACS 77.6.98/A.6
SECTION B RESEARCH NCUACS 77.6.98/B.1-NCUACS 77.6.98/B.98
SECTION C EXPEDITIONS AND EXCURSIONS NCUACS 77.6.98/C.1-NCUACS 77.6.98/C.26
SECTION D LECTURES AND TEACHING NCUACS 77.6.98/D.1-NCUACS 77.6.98/D.27
SECTION E SOCIETIES AND ORGANISATIONS NCUACS 77.6.98/E.1-NCUACS 77.6.98/E.10
SECTION F PUBLICATIONS NCUACS 77.6.98/F.1-NCUACS 77.6.98/F.15
SECTION G HISTORY OF GEOLOGY AND GEOLOGISTS NCUACS 77.6.98/G.1-NCUACS 77.6.98/G.104
SECTION H HISTORY OF TEACHING OF SCIENCE AT OXFORD NCUACS 77.6.98/H.1-NCUACS 77.6.98/H.21
SECTION J OXFORD UNIVERSITY MUSEUM NCUACS 77.6.98/J.1-NCUACS 77.6.98/J.55
SECTION K ALUMNI OXONIENSES NCUACS 77.6.98/K.1-NCUACS 77.6.98/K.13
SECTION L CORRESPONDENCE NCUACS 77.6.98/L.1-NCUACS 77.6.98/L.22
The material cover the period 1928-1993. (Some of the transcripts or photocopies of historical material in sections G - K may relate to eighteenth or nineteenth century events. Earliest date is 1758.)
The collection is presented as shown in the List of Contents. Additional explanatory notes, information or cross-references are appended where appropriate to the separate sections, subsections 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 personal, is very scanty. Edmonds left no personal records.
Section B, Research, is largely concerned with the geology of Oxford and region and includes documentation of several projects for which Edmonds acted as consultant to construction companies, or to Oxford University and its colleges. Borehole logs and site investigation data may be included. There are also papers and correspondence relating to a projected revision of W.J. Arkell's Geology of Oxford (Oxford University Press 1947) which was called off in 1975 because of Edmonds's increasing infirmity.
Section C, Expeditions and excursions, is of interest in documenting the Oxford University Exploration Club's 1933 expedition to Spitsbergen. It includes journals, photographs, drawings and diagrams, and the manuscript of the B.Sc. thesis submitted by Edmonds on the geology of New Friesland. There are also notes and photographs of the geology of Morocco and the Atlas taken on an excursion in 1952.
Other expeditions arranged and led by Edmonds for societies and organisations are recorded in Section E.
Section D, Lectures and teaching, is of interest in including lecture notes delivered in 1933 when Edmonds was a part-time departmental demonstrator in the Oxford University Department of Geology, and also a set of notes for a geological demonstration in Khartoum, Sudan.
Section E, Societies and organisations, is not extensive, and is confined to documentation of a number of meetings and excursions by societies held in Oxford.
Section F, Publications, is also short, partly because Edmonds was notoriously slow to complete writing projects. His last paper, on William Buckland and W.D. Conybeare, published posthumously in 1991, is documented here.
Section G - K provide extensive documentation of Edmonds's lifelong interest in the history of geology and its practitioners, with special reference to Oxford where two pioneers of the subject, Buckland and John Phillips, had taught, written and left their collections. His research methods, while testifying to his eager antiquarian temperament, explain why he published relatively little. His enquiries were meticulous, often impelling him to cast his net ever wider in time and space to develop excessive ramifications. He combed record offices, newspapers, repositories, private holdings, and traced families forward and back through generations. He drew up chronologies tabulating events or movements of key people, their meetings, correspondence, stagecoach or train journeys. Perhaps deliverately, perhaps overwhelmed by the accumulation of material, he selected for his own articles salient episodes in a life or career rather than the whole.
These methods, obsessive though they could become, often uncovered new details or established more precise datings such as the place and time of Buckland's death or Phillips's family and early life. There is some interest also in Edmonds's own correspondence with descendants and their accounts of family history and papers even when these are negative. A sequence of photocopied documents assembled in 1976 about the Oxford University Museum (NCUACS 77.6.98/J.49-NCUACS 77.6.98/J.54) and the biographical information on 'Alumni Oxonienses' (NCUACS 77.6.98/K.1-NCUACS 77.6.98/K.13) form a corpus of material not readily available elsewhere.
Section L, Correspondence, is short. Of interest are letters from J.A. Douglas with lively recollections of the Oxford Department of Geology and its personnel, and letters from Victor and Joan Eyles on aspects of geological research.
|Held by:||Oxford University: Museum of Natural History, not available at The National Archives|
|Extent:||ca 400 items|
Edmonds was born in Cumberland on 13 June 1909. His father Charles Edmonds had been a haematite miner, later a Union official and active in the Workers Educational Association. A self-taught geologist, he became the leading authority on the West Cumberland Lower Carboniferous and a founder member of the Cumberland Geological Society. He encouraged his son in the study of geology and collaborated with him on research and papers.
James Edmonds was educated at S.t Bees School Cumberland 1922-1928. In 1929 he entered St Edmund Hall Oxford to read geology, graduating in 1932, when he won the Burdett-Coutts Scholarship for research in geology, and became a Senior Exhibitioner of the Hall. In 1933 he was a member of the Oxford University Exploration Club expedition to Spitsbergen and was awarded a B.Sc. in 1934 for his thesis on the Geology of New Friesland.
In 1934 Edmonds was appointed Government Geologist in the Sudan, and greatly enjoyed his work there. In April 1938, however, he developed rheumatoid arthritis and was invalided out of the service. Although there appeared some possibility of a return to the Sudan in 1944, his health did not permit this and an overseas career was over.
After was service as a meteorological officer, Edmonds returned to Oxford and was appointed Graduate Assistant in the Department of Geology 1946-1965 and Curator of the Geological Collections of the Museum 1955-1976. He was a Fellow of the Geological Society, and a Vice-President 1963-1964, and a Fellow of St. Cross College Oxford 1965-1976.
Edmonds had been an active athlete at school and university, but the arthritis which had ended his career in the Sudan continued to develop and circumscribe his life. He underwent many operations and was latterly confined to a wheelchair. He had always had an interest in the history of his subject, encouraged by his work in arranging and cataloguing the geological collections; the increasing immobility which denied him opportunities for field research allowed him to develop his historical studies especially after his retirement in 1976.
In 1936 Edmonds married Josephine Reynolds (d. 1997). They had one daughter Barbara. Edmonds died on 31 July 1982.
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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
Compiled by Jeannine Alton and Peter Harper
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 grateful to Professor W.J. Kennedy (Curator, Geological Collections) and Ms S.M. Brecknell (Librarian) of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History for their assistance.
Mr H. P. Powell (Assistant Curator, Geological Collections) has shared his encyclopaedic knowledge of the Museum and his recollections of Edmonds, given much helpful advice and kindly read the catalogue in draft.
Mr S.R. Tomlinson (Department of Western Manuscripts, Bodleian Library) has given helpful information and advice.
Mr S. Tunnicliffe (Curator of Biostratigraphical Collections, British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottinghamshire) has provided information on the specimens collected by Edmonds's father.
Mrs J.B. Alton
Mr P. Harper
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