A collection of the personal and scientific papers of John Dalton. The collection has considerable importance for studies of the history of science, and in particular the development of chemistry in the early 19th century. It is also of more general importance for histories of the Manchester area in this period, due to Dalton's significance as a public figure in Manchester.
The collection consists of over 130 manuscripts and printed items. These include Dalton's manuscript lectures, papers delivered before the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, some of his meteorological records, and a disparate selection of his laboratory notebooks. Non-scientific items include his personal financial records, and the records of the Dalton Testimonial Committee, which solicited funds and commissioned the memorial bust of Dalton, sculpted by Francis Chantrey. Correspondence is not a significant component of the collection, but there are over fifty letters to Dalton, most of which deal with scientific topics; there are fewer of Dalton's own letters, and most of these deal with non-scientific subjects.
Dalton MS 81-84, 86-89 are lecture notes delivered from the early 1790s to the 1830s. Dating of the lectures is difficult, and imprecise, and in some cases Dalton used his notes for more than one series of lectures. W. W. Haldane Gee provides some information on Dalton's lectures which is relevant to these manuscripts ('John Dalton's lectures and lecture illustrations').
Dalton MS 90 to Dalton MS 100 are Dalton's manuscripts of papers delivered primarily to the Lit and Phil between 1801 and 1837. Robert Angus Smith Memoir of John Dalton has a list of these papers.
Mss 101 -126 are Dalton's research notebooks for meteorology, maths, botany and astronomy. Mss 127-140 are Dalton's personal financial records, which include professional as well as domestic expenses. Mss 141-152 are miscellaneous documents, including some records of Dalton's brother, Jonathan, who was a schoolmaster, and continued his brother's practice of recording meteorological data at Kendal..
Mss 155, 163, 181, 182, 184, 185, 187, 188 are letters from Dalton to various correspondents. There are very few of these in the collection, and they mostly concern domestic and family matters. Mss 324-355 are letters received by him, and these are more numerous and deal with a wider range of issues.
Dalton Mss 308, 310-318, 320-322 are documents about Dalton by others or documents received by him, and include the records of the Dalton Testimonial Committee. Manuscripts between Dalton Mss 356 and 366 fall into a category described by Smyth as "Daltoniana" and includes some printed material.
The collection includes facsimiles of two letters from Dalton to Charles Babbage, 15 May 1830 and 7 December 1830, the originals being held at the British Library. Smyth numbered these 157 and 158. Two items not listed by Smith are included and have been classified as Dalton Add MS 1 and 2; their provenance is uncertain, and they include material which does not directly relate to Dalton. Smyth also identified no.85 "Royal Institution lectures 1810" as being in the Library's custody. No evidence has been found to confirm this, and we do not believe it is one of the manuscripts purchased in 1979.