Zuckerman Archive: Wolfson Foundation

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1187 SZ/WF
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      41 boxes; 12 sub-series; 7 metres

Scope and Content

Three files of correspondence in Sub-series SZ/WF/2, General Correspondence, 1964-1987, were formerly maintained in the Cabinet Office (old file reference W/1); these form a parallel sequence for the years 1967-1971.

Sub-series SZ/WF/6, Administration, 1955, 1979-1986, contains memoranda and correspondence relating to Solly Zuckerman's views concerning the composition of the Board of Trustees and the role of trustees, and the administration of the Foundation.

Sub-series SZ/WF/7 relates to preparatory research carried out by Mrs Gillian Booth, of Lord Zuckerman's Office UEA, for a history of the Foundation to mark its 25th Anniversary.

Sub-series SZ/WF/8, Applications, A-Z, 1966-1986, comprises some 500 applications received by the Wolfson Foundation and considered by the Trustees, excluding those related to the special programmes, which are dealt with in sub-series SZ/WF/9, Technological Projects Scheme, 1967-1987, and SZ/WF/10, Industrial Research Fellowships, 1979-1985. They are arranged alphabetically by applicant. Complementary correspondence is to be found in File SZ/WF/2 and Series SZ/GEN, General Correspondence, 1909-1994.

The four sub-files that make up File SZ/WF/9/1 of Sub-series SZ/WF/9, Technological Projects Scheme, 1967-1987, were created in the Cabinet Office (old file references W5-6).

Sub-series SZ/WF/10 relates to the establishment of the Wolfson Industrial Research Fellowships Scheme. This scheme was complementary to the Technological Projects Scheme and had its origins in discussions in 1979 between Solly Zuckerman and Lord Kearton of the Fellowship of Engineering about ways of supporting industrially-oriented scientists and engineers made redundant because of the recession. The object was to support successful applicants for up to three years while they worked in university laboratories on projects with expectations of industrial application and benefit. In October 1981 the Foundation earmarked 750,000; 500,000 per year for the three years (1982-85) over which the scheme was to operate.

Sub-series SZ/WF/11 concerns proposals for a Wolfson Technological Trust. The idea sprang from a personal approach by Zuckerman to Leonard Wolfson about ways of assisting recipients of grants under the Technological Projects Scheme to market the products that they were developing. Zuckerman had in mind an alternative to the British Technology Group which is far too greedy, and is disliked by university people [letter, Zuckerman to Leonard Wolfson, 24 January 1983]. The Trust was incorporated in 1985 with rather wider-ranging objects, however there is an implication in correspondence in the file that the Trust did not become active.

In June 1966 the Trustees considered an application for a grant for a new graduate college at Oxford, absorbing the existing Iffley College. Solly Zuckerman had reservations about the application, notwithstanding his high regard for its champion, Sir Isaiah Berlin, and was moved to question the Foundation's existing policy on Higher Education, and university-based scientific research in particular. A committee was set up, chaired by Leonard Wolfson, which convened on May 8th 1987 to consider a paper submitted by Zuckerman, Proposals for a Review of Policy in the Field of Higher Education. It is to this that Sub-series SZ/WF/12, Higher Education Policy, 1965-67, relates. Zuckerman proposed that for a five-year period two-thirds of the funds designated for academic purposes should be devoted to areas of applied science deemed likely to help to improve the UK economy and to assist the modernisation of industry. He also advocated a funding strategy that would direct support to those institutions that had borne the major burden of university expansion, the civic universities and colleges of advanced technology, rather than Oxford and Cambridge. It was agreed that Zuckerman's paper should be put to the Trustees when they met in June 1967, with a recommendation that the proposal should be approved, and that ?,000; per year for the next five years should be made available. These funds would be primarily for the promotion of those fields of applied science which, in the view of the Trustees, were most likely to improve the economic position of Britain and help the modernisation of British industry.

The greater part of this sub-series consists of drafts of Zuckerman's paper and related working papers and correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

Solly Zuckerman was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Wolfson Foundation in 1964; he attended his last Trustees' Meeting on 11 December 1986. Once having found his bearings, Zuckerman became highly active and exerted significant influence on the direction that the Foundation took over the next twenty years. His particular contribution was in the areas of support for applied scientific research and development of the academic-industrial interface of innovation. His views generally on the purpose of institutions such as the Wolfson Foundation are encapsulated in his summing up in The Future of Philanthropic Foundations, Ciba Foundation Symposium 30 (new series), Amsterdam, ASP, 1975.

His later years as a Trustee of the Foundation were less than happy. A tension arose between the demands of his own pet programmes, such as the Technological Projects Scheme (to which Sub-series SZ/WF/9 refers), and the priorities of other Trustees; perhaps he became too proprietorial for their taste - and that of the Wolfson Family Trustees in particular.

The Wolfson Technological Projects Scheme was Zuckerman's idea, an offshoot of the Wolfson Foundation's revised policy on Higher Education, adopted in June 1967. In its turn the Technological Projects Scheme spawned the Wolfson Industrial Research Fellowships. The scheme's purpose was to help bridge the gap between university research workers on the one hand, and those responsible for innovation in industry on the other [ preface to L. Rotherham, Research and Innovation; a record of the WolfsonTechnological Projects Scheme 1968-1981, Clarendon Press, 1984 ]. The Wolfson Foundation expended 17 million on the scheme over a period of 16 years.


  • SZ/WF/1 Meetings of Trustees, 1965-1986 [in 28 files]
  • SZ/WF/2 General Correspondence, 1964-1987 [in 19 files]
  • SZ/WF/3 Correspondence with Leonard Wolfson, 1962-1986
  • SZ/WF/4 Reports (Annual; Cumulative), 1955-1985
  • SZ/WF/5 Accounts, 1966-85 [incomplete]
  • SZ/WF/6 Administration, 1979-1986 [in seven files]
  • SZ/WF/7 Proposed History of Wolfson Foundation - Working Papers, 1980-81
  • SZ/WF/8 Applications, A-Z, 1966-1986
  • SZ/WF/9 Technological Projects Scheme, 1967-1987 [in seven files]
  • SZ/WF/10 Industrial Research Fellowships, 1979-1985
  • SZ/WF/11 Technology Trust, 1983-87
  • SZ/WF/12 Higher Education Policy, 1965-67 [in four files]

Access Information

Access to all files is restricted. Sub-series SZ/WF/6, Administration, 1979-1986, is closed.



Other Finding Aids

A contemporary MS list of the contents of the three files in Sub-series SZ/WF/2, General Correspondence, 1964-1987, formerly in the Cabinet Office, is held in the Archives Department.

An MS card index summarising the purpose and date of each application in Sub-series SZ/WF/8, Applications, A-Z, 1966-1986, is held in the Archives Department.

MS lists of applications under the Technological Projects Scheme, to which Sub-series SZ/WF/9 relates, are held in the Archives Department.

Related Material

The story of the Technological Projects Scheme is told in Dr L. Rotherham, Research and Innovation; a record of the WolfsonTechnological Projects Scheme 1968-1981, Clarendon Press, 1984, drafts of which are in Series SZ/PUB, Publications and Lectures, 1925-1998.

Corporate Names