Papers of Sir John Currie Gunn, 1916-2002, Cargill Professor of Natural Philosophy, University of Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Personal documents, 1950s-1970s
  • Research papers and notes, 1940s-1980s
  • Reports, 1966-1977
  • Correspondence,1950s-1991
  • Newspaper cuttings and papers, 1964-1965
  • University Grants Committee documents, 1950s-1980s
  • Glasgow University exam documents, 1892-1970
  • Senate minutes, 1942-1966
  • Senate golf match documents, 1960s-1970s
  • Various Committee papers and minutes, 1940s-1980s
  • Faculty of Engineering minutes and papers, 1948-1960s
  • Miscellaneous departmental administrative papers, 1960s-1970s
  • University of Glasgow Court documents, 1969-1970s
  • GU rectorial installation notes, 1958
  • Lists of departmental publications, 1940s-1971
  • Photograph possibly of departmental staff, c1950s
  • Annual report of the Carnegie Trust, 1944-1959
  • Science Research Council documents, 1948-1980s
  • National Institute for Research in Nuclear Science documents, 1940s-1965
  • Science and Engineering Research Council documents, 1980s
  • Daresbury Nuclear Physics Laboratory documents, 1965-1980
  • UK Free Election Laser Project minutes and papers, 1980s
  • Plans of synchroton, 20th century
  • CERN documents, 1952- 1970s
  • University of Birmingham Faculty of Science regulations and syllabus, 1957-1958
  • European Committee documents, 1970s
  • Royal Philosophy Society papers, 1950s-1970s
  • Reprints and publications, 1895-1980s
  • Scottish Certificate of Education Examination Board minutes and papers, 1960s-1972
  • Research notes of P I Dee, Cambridge University, 1927-1938
  • Scottish Universities Entrance Board papers, 1966-1967
  • Photocopies of Lloyd Register pages, 19-20th century
  • Report on J G Balfour research, 1952
  • Stewart Paterson research papers and reports, 1940s
  • Royal School of Art and Music documents, 1956-1960
  • Royal Technical College prospectus, 1954
  • Lists of science books, 1950s
  • Glasgow Academicals War Memorial Trust, 1957

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir John Currie Gunn was born on the 13th of September, 1916, in Glasgow. He began his education at the Glasgow Academy before going on to study Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, graduating with an M.A in 1937. He was also awarded the Logan Prize in the same year for distinction in the examinations for the degree of M.A.

After graduating from Glasgow Gunn went on to study at St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he conducted research in theoretical physics. His research subsequently led him to the development of counter and firing systems for mines, which was used during World War II. When he graduated from St. John’s, Gunn was awarded the Mayhew Prize for the greatest merit in applied mathematics.

At the end of the war, Gunn became a Lecturer in Applied Mathematics at Manchester University. In 1946, Gunn was then a Lecturer at the University College in London, where he began research in nuclear and particle physics. In 1949, he was appointed to the Cargill Chair in Applied Physics at the University of Glasgow, which Professor Philip Dee wished to lead research in theoretical physics as he developed a centre of expertise in nuclear and particle physics.. This Chair was founded in 1920 and endowed by the gift of Sir John Traill Cargill (1867-1956) of the Burmah Oil Co. The name was changed to Natural Philosophy in 1945. Gunn and Dee were able to obtain funding in order to build a linear electron accelerator for their nuclear physics research. Gunn maintained the Cargill Chair at Glasgow until 1982.

Gunn was also involved in other aspects of the University – he was one of the first Vice- Principals at Glasgow from 1972-1977, and was later appointed the Dean of Faculties from 1988-1992. He was also a member of the University Grants Committee from 1973-1981. As well as this, Gunn was a member of the Science Research Council from 1968-1972, and acted as Chairman between 1970 and 1972. Gunn was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1959, was appointed CBE in 1976, and was knighted in 1982. Gunn was awarded a DSc in 2001. Sir John Gunn passed away in July 2002.


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Access to records within this collection is open, subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Please email Archives and Special Collections for advice:

Acquisition Information

Deposit : Professor J. M. F. Gunn : 22 Aug - 18 Sep 2002 : ACCN 2260

Deposit : Sir John Gunn: 19 Nov 1994 : ACCN 1357

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Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents. Applications for permission to quote should be sent to Archives and Special Collections, please email:

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