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Schuster, Sir Arthur (1851-1934)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0117 MS 663
Held at: Royal Society
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Full title: Schuster, Sir Arthur (1851-1934)
Date(s): c 1899-1913
Level of description: Sub-fonds
Extent: 3 bound volumes, 1 box
Name of creator(s): Schuster | Sir | Arthur | 1851-1934 | Knight | physicist
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Son of Francis Joseph Schuster of Frankfurt who in 1869 transferred his business in cotton goods to Manchester to escape Prussian nationality when Frankfurt annexed by Prussia. Left the Gymnasium in Frankfurt in 1868 to learn French at Geneva, where he also studied chemistry under Marignac, physics under Soret, and astronomy under Plantamour at the Geneva Academy. In 1870 he joined his family in Manchester, initially joining the firm of Schuster Brothers as an apprentice, but also attending evening classes in chemistry at Owen's College. He entered Owen's College as a day student in 1871, where he turned to spectrum analysis for special study, the Royal Society publishing his first paper 'On the Spectrum of Nitrogen'. In 1872 under Roscoe's guidance he went to Heidelberg to study under Kirchoff, and obtained his Ph.D 'magna cum laude'. he was appointed by the Royal Society to lead the expedition to observe the total solar eclipse off the coast of Siam, although the photographic plates being used were much too slow to be successful. He then worked at the Cavendish Laboratory 1876-1881 with Clerk Maxwell, and collaborated with Lord Rayleigh on the value of the ohm. He also took part in his second eclipse expedition to Colorado in 1878.In 1878 he was also appointed to the Professorship of Applied Mathematics at Owens College in Manchester, where he again took up spectrum analysis research. He still remained fascinated by eclipses, and was at last successful in photographing the spectrum of the solar corona on an expedition to Egypt in 1882, and went on his fourth and last eclipse expedition to the West Indies in 1886. He performed pioneering work on the discharge of electricity in gases, this being the subject of both Bakerian lectures. In 1888 he was appointed Professor of Physics in Owen's College on the death of Balfour Stewart. His own interests moved on to terrestrial magnetism, optics, solar physics, and the mathematical theory of periodicities. In 1896 Roentgen communicated to him his discovery of X-rays, experiments which Schuster repeated successfully, his laboratory subsequently being inundated with requests from the medical profession for aid in the introduction of X-ray practice. In 1900 the Royal Society, then the governing body of the Meteorological Office which was making difficulties for the Society with its ever-increasing demands for funds, appointed him to the Meteorological Council. In 1905 the Council was replaced by a Meteorological Committee under direct Treasury control, with Schuster one of the two Royal Society Representatives on the Committee. He served for thirty two years, taking a leading part in its work and acting as Vice- Chairman after the Office was transferred to the Air Ministry in 1919. He was also responsible for introducing meteorology as a university subject in England, funding a small department of meteorology as part of the Physics Department of Manchester University in 1905, and funding the Readership in Meteorology at Cambridge University at his own expense from 1907. Administratively his work was very varied, and included work for the College and University, such as building new physical laboratories at Manchester, for the Royal Society and Government, and above all for international science, particularly the International Research Council, of which he became the first secretary from 1919 to 1928.


Scope and content/abstract:

Correspondence of Sir Arthur Schuster and letters and papers concerning the International Association of Academies, 1899-1913.

Access & Use

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Conditions governing reproduction:

No publication without written permission. Apply to Archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

Royal Astronomical Society Library, diary, correspondence and papers; John Rylands Library, Manchester University, correspondence and papers, 16 letters to RS Hutton (future son in law) 1898-1900; Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University, correspondence, 1900-1910; Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, Cambridge University, correspondence with Lord Kelvin, 1882-1904, 13 letters to Lord Rutherford. 1906-1919, letters to Sir George Stokes, 1883-1897, correspondence with Sir Joseph Thomson; St John's College Library, Cambridge University, 33 letters to Sir Joseph Larmor; Manuscripts Room, University College London, University of London, correspondence with Sir Oliver Lodge, 1884-1914; Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories, 14 letters to Lord Rayleigh, 1880-1919; Trinity College Library, Cambridge University, correspondence with Joseph John Thomson, 1900-1920.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Copied from the Royal Society catalogue by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
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:
Feb 2009.

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