Papers and correspondence of Edward Arthur Milne, 1896-1950

Scope and Content

The papers were assembled after a considerable lapse of time and have inevitably many gaps. There is little record of Milne's overseas travel for research and conferences or his committee and editorial work, while the correspondence is clearly no more than a fraction of the original corpus. There are lectures, notes and drafts, which give some indication, albeit incomplete, of the range of Milne's mathematical and astrophysical interests. The correspondence contains two sequences of very diverse interest: on the one hand the letters of the young Milne to his parents and brother, mainly during and just after the First World War, and on the other hand an extensive correspondence with S. Chandrasekhar, 1929-1950 (photocopies made available from the Chandrasekhar archives in the Joseph Regenstein Library, University of Chicago). These, while chiefly on technical subjects and especially Milne's growing belief in kinematic relativity, also contain many insights into his later family life, bereavements and daily struggles during and after the Second World War.

Administrative / Biographical History

Milne was born in Hull and educated at Hymers College, Hull and Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1920 he became Assistant Director of the Solar Physics Laboratory, Cambridge, in 1925 Beyer Professor of Applied Mathematics at Manchester University and in 1928 the first holder of the Rouse Ball Professorship at Oxford University, a position he held for the rest of his life. Milne served in both World Wars, on ballistics and sound-ranging at the Anti-Aircraft Experimental Station at Portsmouth, 1916-1918 (holding an RNVR Commission), and for the Ministry of Supply at the Ordnance Board as a 'Key Scientist' for much of the Second World War, 1939-1944. W.H. McCrea, in his memoir for the Royal Society, distinguishes three principal phases in Milne's work: atmospheric problems in astrophysics, 1920-1929, stellar structure, 1929-1935, and the discovery and development of kinematic relativity from 1932 ( Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society, 7, 429-438). Other topics on which he wrote and lectured include thermodynamics, statistical mechanics and pulsating stars. Milne was elected FRS in 1926 (Bakerian Lecture 1929, Royal Medal 1941).


By section as follows: Biographical and personal, Lectures and papers, Notes and drafts, Correspondence. Index ofcorrespondents.

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Other Finding Aids

Printed Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Edward Arthur Milne: CSAC catalogue no. 102/6/84, 37 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath.

Custodial History

Received for cataloguing in 1980-1984 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre from several sources, principally Mrs Meggie Weston-Smith and Miranda Weston-Smith, daughter and grand-daughter. Placed in Bodleian Library (gift) in 1984.