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King's College London Maxwell Society Records

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0100 KCLCA KSM
Held at: King's College London College Archives
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Full title: King's College London Maxwell Society Records
Date(s): 1939-1970
Level of description: Sub-fonds of King's College London Archives
Extent: 2 boxes
Name of creator(s): King's College London Maxwell Society


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Maxwell Society was founded around 1935 by Sir Edward Victor Appleton, Wheatstone Professor of Physics at the University of London, 1924-1936, and was named in honour of the pioneering physicist, James Clerk Maxwell, Professor of Natural Philosophy at King's College London, between 1860 and 1865. It was established to promote knowledge of physics among students of King's. Events included lectures delivered by staff at King's or by distinguished guest speakers on a wide variety of subjects including nuclear physics, ultrasonics, radiobiology, quantum dynamics and aspects of applied science including the development of the computer and television. Members also undertook study visits to research laboratories and technical and manufacturing facilities, and organised other, more occasional, events and social activities. The Society is still very active in arranging talks and other events.


Scope and content/abstract:

The records of the Maxwell Society at King's College London consist of minutes, correspondence, programmes and signature books, 1939-1970. These notably include the manuscript minutes of the Maxwell Society, 1947-1950, mostly summarising the title and content of individual Society lectures on subjects ranging from the development of the calculating machine, to 'reasoning automata' or the early theory of intelligent computers, and to the possibility of interplanetary travel, a talk given by Arthur Charles Clarke, the best-selling science author, an alumnus of King's, who was then Chairman of the British Interplanetary Society. The minutes notably cover the period of the Secretaryship of Peter Ware Higgs, a leading authority on the behaviour of elementary particles. Correspondence, mainly comprising lecture invitations and organisation and other more minor Society business, 1939-1970; accounts, 1939-1940; Secretary's annual reports, 1939-1946, 1952-1958; lecture attendance register, 1941-1948; programmes including bulletins, 1951-1964, relating to Physics Department visits to Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park, the United Kingdom universities' staff and students residential studies venue established after World War Two; presentation copy of Cyril Domb ed., Clerk Maxwell and modern science (London, 1963).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The collection is arranged into the main series of papers as described above in the Scope and Content section.

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to the signature of reader's undertaking form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Director of Archive Services.

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

King's College Maxwell Society.

Allied Materials

Related material:

King's College London Archives: Papers of James Clerk Maxwell (Ref: KCLCA K/PP 71); papers relating to the James Clerk Maxwell Foundation (Ref: KCLCA K/ PP 45).

Other papers relating to Maxwell include: Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives: correspondence and papers, 1847-1879 (Ref: Add 7655); correspondence with Peter Guthrie Tait, letters to Lord Kelvin, 1854-1879; Cambridge University, Peterhouse Library: family correspondence and miscellaneous papers, 1845-1879; National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts division: paper presented to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1846; Glasgow University Library, Special Collections Department: letters to Lord Kelvin, 1857-1873; London Metropolitan Archives: correspondence with Cecil James Monro (Ref: Acc 1063/2078-2110); St Andrews University Library: correspondence with James David Forbes, 1855-1877.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Entry compiled by Geoff Browell.

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:
August 2001

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