Papers of George Norman Burkhardt

  • Reference
      GB 133 GNB
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1.2 linear metres 39 items.
  • Location
      Collection available at the University Archive and Records Centre, main University Library

Scope and Content

Papers of the academic chemist and university administrator, George Burkhardt.

The main body of records in the archive is a collection of theses (GNB/4), papers and chemistry note books (GNB/1) describing the work of Burkhardt in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Manchester. Other papers describe his chemistry interests outside of the department (GNB/2), as well as his involvement in the administration of the University via his involvement with Hulme Hall (GNB/3). The collection has value in terms of the insight it provides into chemistry research and education at this time.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Norman Burkhardt (1900-1991) was a member of the Chemistry department at the University of Manchester between 1923-1968. He also worked as in the University administration, serving as two Vice-Chancellors, Sir John Stopford and Sir William Mansfield Cooper.

Born in London in 1900, Burkhardt moved soon after to Swindon with his parents and brother. He was offered places to read chemistry at both Manchester and Oxford Universities, choosing Manchester on health grounds. He suffered from severe asthma and felt the humid climate in the North would be beneficial.

Burkhardt gained first class honours in chemistry in 1920, followed by a M.Sc. in 1921, and Ph.D. in 1925. He was appointed assistant lecturer (later lecturer) in chemistry in 1923.was a member of the Chemistry department during the golden years of Lapworth, Robinson, Polanyi, Heilbron, Todd, Evans and Hirst. His PhD. was in the physical aspects of organic chemistry, and supervised by Arthur Lapworth.

Burkhardt was a very visible member in the wider life of the University. He enjoyed a long connection with Hulme Hall, firstly as a student, then as an academic member, only resigning from the Hall Committee in 1987 due to ill health. The new residential block, Burkhardt House, was named after him in 1998. Parallel to this work was his work for the Convocation of the University, in which he played a central role for half a century, sustaining links between the University and its alumni.

During the Second World War he became involved with academic administration, and his skills in this area were much valued by the University. As secretary to the Faculty of Science, Burkhardt took charge of the interdepartmental honours general science degree. After the War, the Vice-Chancellor, Sir John Stopford, recognised his role as advisor and created the special post of Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for him, with membership of the Senate.

In 1950 Burkhardt became secretary to the newly formed Manchester Joint Research Council, a unique partnership between the University and the Manchester Chamber of Commerce to promote better relations between academe and industry in postwar Britain. He remained active in the Council until it was wound up in 1972.

Burkhardt also had a keen interest in the history of chemistry. During his retirement, Burkhardt wrote a series of papers on the history of the department of chemistry and on Manchester scientists.


Although some parts of the archive were kept in labeled folders, there was no discernible system of arrangement to the collection as a whole.

The papers have been arranged into four series:

  • /1 Papers of and relating to the department of Chemistry.
  • /2 General papers of George Norman Burkhardt.
  • /3 Papers relating to the University of Manchester.
  • /4 Theses.

Access Information

The records in the collection are open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The archive was donated by the Burkhardt family in 1991. The archive was accumulated and maintained by George Burkhardt up until his death in 1991.

Archivist's Note

Note: material relating to the Manchester Joint Research Council was identified as a separate collection in 2010 and removed. This material now forms the Manchester Joint Research Council Archive (JRC). This archive was formerly referenced as GNBA/16-GNBA/24 in the Burkhardt papers.

Related Material

For Burkhardt's involvement in the Manchester Joint Research Council, see the JRC archive, held by JRUL.

See also the Department of Chemistry archive (DCH). the Vice-Chancellor's archive has a file on Burkhardt's role in University administration, VCA/7/122


G.N.Burkhardt, 'The School of Chemistry in the University of Manchester', The Journal of the Royal Institute of Chemistry, September 1954.

Geographical Names