Graphical version

Natural History Museum

TOTTON, Arthur Knyvett (1892-1972)


Reference code(s): GB 0060 DF 5009

Held at: Natural History Museum

Title: TOTTON, Arthur Knyvett (1892-1972)

Date(s): 1875-1972

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 100

Name of creator(s): Totton | Arthur Knyvett | 1892-1973 | zoologist


Administrative/Biographical history:

A K Totton was born in Surrey on 6 January 1892, and educated at Berkhamsted School. He studied at the Royal College of Science, London, attending lectures by Adam Sedgwick and E W MacBride, among others, and joined the staff of the British Museum (Natural History) in 1914. Totton served with distinction in the 1914-1918 war, being commissioned in 1915 and awarded the Military Cross the following year. He was severely wounded in 1916 and was invalided out of the army in 1918.

On his return to the Museum, Totton was given charge of the Coelenterate Section. Although he published on a number of coelenterate groups, it was the siphonophores which became his speciality. His first major work on the group was his Barrier Reef Expedition report (1932), to be followed by his Discovery Report on the siphonophores of the Indian Ocean (1954), and, the culmination of his work, the Synopsis of the Siphonophora (1965). Totton visited the West Indies on HMS Rodney in 1932, travelled to the Canary Islands with G O Mackie in 1955, and worked at the Villefranche Marine Station for a number of summers from 1949. Totton retired from the Museum in 1953, and was employed as an Associate until 1963. He continued his coelenterate researches until just before his death on 12 January 1973.


Scope and content/abstract:

Scientific papers of A K Totton including official Museum files, diaries and correspondence and material produced after his retirement. It relates entirely to his work on coelenterates, and the bulk is concerned with the Siphonophora, the group which includes the Portugese man of war.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Arrangement of the series is broadly chronological, with correspondence and diaries at the beginning, and artwork at the end.

Conditions governing access:

Conditions governing reproduction:

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Removed from Totton's house after his death.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Part of the Coelenterata Section Correspondence, containing the bulk of Totton's official letters, is held at DF253. DF257 contains the research papers that Totton left at the Museum after his retirement. His personal file is DF208/75, and the file on his John Murray siphonophore report is DF215/33, and further research papers are in DF257.

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Entry copied from the Natural History Museum online catalogue by Sarah Drewery.
References: [Robson, E A], 1973. Arthur Knyvett Totton. Nature, London. 244, 187-188
Cornelius, P F S, 1974. Bibliography of A K Totton. In Pugh, P R (Ed) Letter to the editors. Deep-Sea Research 21: 785-789. (Pp 787-789).

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Sep 2008


Personal names
Totton | Arthur Knyvett | 1892-1973 | zoologist

Corporate names
British Museum