Durward Cruickshank Papers

  • Reference
      GB 133 DWC
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1.5 li.m. 141 items
  • Location
      Collection available at University Archive and Records Centre, main University Library.

Scope and Content

Papers of the chemist Durward Cruickshank. Cruickshank was an internationally important figure in the development of crystallography in the second half of the twentieth century. He was professor of chemistry at the universities of Leeds, Glasgow and UMIST.

The main component of the archive is Cruickshank's correspondence and subject files, which date from his wartime service in SOE up to this death in 2007. The files deal with a wide range of topics in chemistry and crystallography, and include Cruickshank's academic papers and correspondence. These reflect his influential position in the international crystallographic community and his excellent network of contacts and associates. Significant figures represented in the files include: Sir Gordon Cox (his mentor at Leeds), Dorothy Hodgkin, whom he assisted with her work on vitamin B12, John Monteath Robertson, Linus Pauling, Otto Bastiansen, Jackie Truter, G V Gibbs, Leslie Sutton, Larry Bartell, David Phillips, Kozo Kuchitsu, Alajos Kalman, Kathleen Lonsdale, Marianne and Bela Rozsondai, Istvan Hartiggai, Paul Ewald, and Ralph Wyckoff. Cruickshank's longstanding involvement in the International Union of Crystallography is also well documented in the files.

The files include information about Cruickshank's pioneering use of digital computers in the 1950s and 1960s for crystallographic work, including his experiences of the EDSAC (Cambridge), Manchester Ferranti, Leeds Pegasus and Glasgow KDF9 computers. There are also files covering Cruickshank's work on gas electron diffraction. There is variable coverage of the universities at which Cruickshank worked: there are some papers relating to professional work and ceremonial events at UMIST, fewer for the University of Glasgow, and probably most material for the University of Leeds, including files on the Pippin Club, an informal group of Gordon Cox's alumni.

Cruickshank was interested in the history of science, and he collected material on the scientists William and Lawrence Bragg, Rosalind Franklin and the 19th century physicist John Kerr. There are also several files relating to Cruickshank's work for the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, when he was based at Station IX, the Frythe and helped design the Welfreighter, a midget submarine.

The archive includes a small selection of Cruickshank's notebooks and unpublished papers, as well as photographs, mainly relating to the IUCr. Also present are some rare paper computer tapes used on the Manchester Ferranti computer for his work on the differential synthesis program in the early 1950s.

Administrative / Biographical History

Durward William John Cruickshank was born in 1924. He was educated at Ramsgate School, followed by Loughborough College (now the University of Loughborough) where he took an external London degree in engineering. Cruickshank was then called up for war service. Unusually he was appointed to work with the Special Operations Executive at their HQ, the Frythe, in Hertfordshire. Here he was engaged in the development of a mini-submarine, known as the Welfreighter. This was intended to take agents to Continental Europe, although in practice it was never fully operational.

After the war, Cruickshank was recruited as a researcher by Gordon Cox, professor of chemistry at the University of Leeds. Cox was a leading figure in X-ray crystallography and was a major influence on Cruickshank’s intellectual development. In 1947, Cruickshank returned to his studies, reading for a mathematics degree at the University of Cambridge. In 1950, he returned to Leeds as a lecturer in mathematical chemistry.

Gordon Cox was expanding his research group in crystallography at Leeds and Cruickshank was charged with developing more precise mathematical determinations of crystal structures. He became interested in digital computing, influenced by the work of Andrew Booth at Birkbeck College, who used computational techniques to improve crystallographic accuracy. During the early 1950s Cruickshank was an active user of the Manchester Ferranti compute, devising programs to determine crystal structures, including work on vitamin B12 for Dorothy Hodgkin .

In 1957, Cruickshank persuaded Leeds to acquire their own computer - a Ferranti Pegasus, and he used this to study bond lengths in aromatic hydrocarbons and the temperature dependencies of vibrations of molecules in crystals. In 1962 Cruickshank was appointed Joseph Black professor of chemistry at the University of Glasgow. Glasgow was an important centre for chemical crystallography under the direction of Professor J M Robertson and George Sim. At Glasgow Cruickshank continued his work on computational analysis, this time using a KDF 9 computer. Cruickshank also set up a research group on gas-phase electron diffraction, working with Otto Bastiansen's group at the University of Oslo.

In 1967 Cruickshank became professor of theoretical chemistry at UMIST, where he was to remain until he took early retirement in 1983. In the latter part of his career his research interests included Laue diffraction of protein crystals, semi-empirical and ab initio quantum chemistry, and the crystal structures of tetrahedral oxyanions and related compounds. In retirement, Cruickshank worked on the protein structure precision, using a diffraction precision index (DPI) indicator.

Cruickshank did much to build up the professional status of this specialism. He launched the Journal of Applied Crystallography, and held senior positions in the International Union of Crystallography (he was nominated for the presidency in 1981 but was forced to withdraw). He was also founder member of the British Crystallographic Association, serving as vice-president in 1983-5. He was elected FRS in 1979.

Cruickshank won the Chemical Society Award for Structural Chemistry in 1978 and the first Dorothy Hodgkin Prize in 1991. Cruickshank also received honorary degrees from UMIST and the University of Glasgow.

Cruickshank was a significant figure in chemical crystallography, according to his Royal Society memoir written by J R Helliwell and B Beagley "he had a direct influence on over 900 000 chemical crystal structures, the number currently determined and held in the Cambridge Structure Database alone".


  • DWC/1 Correspondence and Subject Files
  • DWC/2 Lecture Notes
  • DWC/3 Unpublished papers
  • DWC/4 Photographs
  • DWC/5 Miscellaneous

Access Information

Items in the collection are open to any accredited reader, unless otherwise stated.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 2018. Under the Act 2018 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for archiving and research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Acquisition Information

Donated to the Library by John and Helen Cruickshank.

Other Finding Aids

Supersedes a box list by John Blunden-Ellis (University of Manchester Library), 2009.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The collection includes examples of early computer tape (paper); these are not currently usable.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

It is believed the archive was transferred to the custody of Professor John Helliwell (University of Manchester) by Cruickshank's family following his death. An inventory of the archive was then drawn up by John Blunden-Ellis in 2008-9, before it was transferred to Special Collections on 25 February 2010.


None expected.

Related Material

The Library also has the papers of another noted UMIST crystallographer, Henry Lipson (LIP, although this is much smaller than Cruickshank's papers.

The Gordon Cox papers held at the University of Leeds Special Collections include Cruickshank correspondence

There are letters from Cruickshank in the papers of C A Coulson, Dorothy Hodgkin, David Phillips and Louise Johnson, all of which are held at the Bodleian Library, Special Collections.


Brian Beazley and J R Helliwell Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 12/2018, Vol.65, pp.71-87; this article was used in the compilation of the biographical note for this catalogue.

Geographical Names