Catalogue description Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of LEWIS FRY RICHARDSON FRS (1881-1953)

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

Details of NCUACS44693
Reference: NCUACS44693
Title: Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of LEWIS FRY RICHARDSON FRS (1881-1953)





Compiled by Timothy E. Powell 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:


British Petroleum plc


The Institute of Physics


The Royal Society


The Wellcome Trust


We are very grateful to Mr Ashford for making the papers available for listing and for his comments on the draft catalogue.

Related material:

In Appendix E of Prophet or Professor? Ashford presents a very full list of 'Archives containing material relating to L F Richardson' which he used in the preparation of his book, and the present collection includes photocopies of material held in some of these. As Ashford relates in his biography, pp. 240-241, many of Richardson's papers were destroyed after his death. The principal collections of surviving Richardson material listed by Ashford are at Paisley College of Technology, Paisley, which holds about thirty files, chiefly of lecture notes but also including correspondence and notes, and sixty textbooks with marginalia by Richardson (a catalogue of these papers is at NCUACS44693/A.11), and the Richardson Institute, Lancaster University, which holds six bound volumes of Richardson's, principally working material for books on peace research but including correspondence and notes on other subjects, and two files on languages and religion and on mapping of populations.

Held by: Cambridge University Library: Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Richardson, Lewis Fry, 1881-1953, scientist, meteorologist and physicist

Immediate source of acquisition:

The papers were received in September 1993 from Mr O.M. Ashford, a colleague and close friend of Richardson and the Richardson family, who brought the material together over many years in the preparation of his biography of Richardson Prophet or Professor? The Life and Work of Lewis Fry Richardson (Adam Hilger, Bristol & Boston MA, 1985).

Administrative / biographical background:

An outline summary of the career of Richardson, drawing upon Prophet or Professor? and the Royal Society obituary of Richardson by E. Gold, Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 9 (1954), is presented on page 5.


The bulk of the papers were listed by Ashford in a 2pp manuscript note of 'Material handed over to Cambridge University Library...23 Sep. 1993'. This may be found at NCUACS44693/A.2. Ashford's list divides the papers into 'Correspondence', 'Miscellaneous' and 'Original notes by LFR'. This arrangement has largely been followed in the presentation of this catalogue; the items listed under 'Correspondence' and 'Miscellaneous' comprise the bulk of the Biographical section of this catalogue, and the majority of the items listed by Ashford as 'Original notes' are in the Notes and drafts section. Not all the material in Ashford's possession was listed, however, and the catalogue also lists Ashford's Richardson photographs, and the contents of a file originally held by Mrs Elaine Traylen, Richardson's daughter.


Section A, Biographical, consists of general and miscellaneous biographical material, correspondence and photographs. The general and miscellaneous material includes sketches by Richardson, his house diary recording aspects of life at the family home Hillside House in Argyll 1943-1953 and later material collected by Ashford, including recollections of R. Barbour relating to Richardson. The correspondence, arranged alphabetically by correspondent, includes Ashford's own correspondence with Richardson, correspondence between Ashford and others in the 1980s relating to his biography of Richardson Prophet or Professor?, and letters of Richardson's (including many letters in the form of photocopies used by Ashford in the preparation of the biography). The photographs include portrait photographs of Richardson and group photographs taken during meetings of the International Commission for the Investigation of the Upper Air in the 1920s.


The items at NCUACS44693/A.13-NCUACS44693/A.17 (Ashford's correspondence with Richardson), NCUACS44693/A.25 (correspondence between Richardson and his son Stephen) and NCUACS44693/A.34-NCUACS44693/A.47 (photographs) were made available for listing in this catalogue but are retained by Ashford during his lifetime.


Section B, Notes and drafts, comprises material ranging from manuscript jottings and research notes to lecture notes on differential equations 1937-1938 and drafts submitted for publication. The subjects relate to Richardson's meteorological and mathematical interests, to his study of war and to his interest in psychology. They include drafts of 'Gregariousness and its opposite' and 'Voting in an international organisation'. The material in this section is presented in chronological order.




1881 Born 11 October, Newcastle upon Tyne.


1894 Bootham School, York.


1898 Durham College of Science.


1900 King's College Cambridge.


1903 Student Assistant, National Physical Laboratory.


1905 Junior Demonstrator in Physics, University College Aberystywth.


1906 Chemist, National Peat Industries Ltd.


1908 Metrology Division, National Physical Laboratory.


1909 Married Dorothy Garnett.


1909 Sunbeam Lamp Company, Gateshead.


1912 Demonstrator and Lecturer in Physics, Manchester College of Technology.


1913 Superintendent of Eskdalemuir Observatory, Meteorological Office.


1916 Friends' Ambulance Unit, attached to 16th French Infantry Division.


1919 Meteorological Office, Benson, Oxfordshire.


1920 Physics Department, Westminister Training College.


1922 Publication of Weather Prediction by Numerical Process.


1926 Election to Fellowship of the Royal Society.


1929 Principal, Paisley College of Technology and School of Art.


1940 Retirement, research on wars and eddy-diffusion.


1953 Died 30 September.

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