Horace Lamb Notebooks

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Notebooks of the mathematician, Sir Horace Lamb, professor of mathematics at Owens College/University of Manchester, 1885-1920. It is believed that these notebooks were mainly compiled for Lamb's teaching and lectures, although HLN/19 and HLN/20 are laboratory notebooks.

  • /1 Algebra (Finite Processes)
  • /2 Algebra (infinite Processes)
  • /3 Analytic Solid Geometry
  • /4 Attractions/Hydrostatics
  • /5 Dynamics (IV.B)
  • /6 Statics (VI)/Elasticity/Hydrostatics
  • /7 Elementary Mechanics: dynamics, statics (1917)
  • /8 Elementary Trigonometry/Elementary Algebra
  • /9 Finite Differences
  • /10 Geometry (IV A)
  • /11 Not titled, relates to geometry
  • /12 Not titled, relates to geometry
  • /13 Spherical trigonometry
  • /14 Solid Geometry (elementary)/Analytical Geometry (elementary)
  • /15 Solid Geometry (higher)
  • /16 Theory of Vibrations II
  • /17 Applied Mathematics:problems
  • /18 Elementary Pure Mathematics Exam Questions [c.1896-8]
  • /19 Laboratory Notebook
  • /20 Higher Algebra, invariants

The Collection also includes an index of contents for these notebooks compiled by Library staff in the 1990s.

Administrative / Biographical History

Horace Lamb was born in Stockport in 1849, the son of a cotton factory worker. He was educated at Stockport Grammar School, and Owens College, before entering Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1868. He graduated in 1872 as second wrangler (mathematician).

Lamb was a fellow at Trinity from 1872-1875, giving up this post on his marriage. He then became professor of mathematics at the University of Adelaide. In 1885 he returned to Britain to become professor of mathematics at Owens College, Manchester.

Lamb was best known as an applied mathematician, and his wide range of interests included hydrodynamics, acoustics, vibration, magnetics, and mechanics. He undertook novel work in the field of wave transmission, and fluid dynamics. In 1904 Lamb published a paper on the propagation of waves over the surface of an elastic solid, which proved very influential in the study of seismology. Lamb 's work was recognised by the naming of Lamb waves to describe the characteristics of waves propagating in plates.

Lamb was the author of a number of studies including Hydrodynamics (1895), Infinitesimal Calculus (1897), Statics (1912), Dynamics (1914) and Higher Mathematics (1920).

Horace Lamb was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1884, and received its Copley medal in 1923. He was knighted in 1931 and was president of the British Association in 1925. Lamb retired from Manchester in 1920 and moved to Cambridge, where he died in 1934 .

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

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 University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The custodial history of this collection is unknown; it is believed Professor Lamb donated the notebooks to the University of Manchester library some time before his death.


None expected.

Related Material

It is not believed that other paper of Professor Lamb have survived. Correspondence from Lamb is included in the papers of several other University academics in the custody of JRUL including Samuel Alexander (ALEX/A/1/1/152) and Thomas Tout (TFT/1/656). The University Archives includes a bundle of documents on Lamb's original election to the chair in 1885 (OCA/19/48) and a file relating to the presentation of a portrait of Lamb in 1913 (painted by his son, Henry Lamb) and his retirement dinner in 1920 (VCA/8/7).The Department of Chemistry archive includes a student notebook of Lamb's lectures on differential calculus (DCH/3/4/3).

Lamb's correspondence with Lord Rayleigh is located at the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories (Mass. U.S.A.) and his correspondence with George Stokes and Lord Kelvin is kept at Cambridge University Library.