Zuckerman Archive: The Chief Scientific Adviser

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1187 SZ/CSA
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
      English, and French.
  • Physical Description
      47 boxes; 199 files; 24 linear feet

Scope and Content

The papers in this series reflect the variety of issues with which a scientific adviser has to deal; some, like the proliferation of nuclear weapons, of literally earth-shattering dimensions, some simply bizarre. A chief scientific adviser, especially a high-profile one, is a soft target for those given to writing letters characterised by heavy underlining and the use of multi-coloured inks. They also reflect the extraordinary range and complexity of Solly Zuckerman's multi-national personal network - politicians from both right and left, experts on every subject under the sun, thinkers and doers.

Two strands in particular run through these papers: the quest for an abatement, if not an abolition, of the nuclear arms race; and the US/UK special relationship. Zuckerman epitomized the latter and he achieved some small success with the former in the shape of the Partial Test-Ban Treaty of 1963.

This series may be expanded to include related material not deposited at UEA until after the death of Lady Zuckerman.

Administrative / Biographical History

In the early summer of 1959, while in the United Sates as a visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology, Solly Zuckerman received a letter from the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Sir Richard Powell, asking if he would accept the post of Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) to the Ministry. The present incumbent, Sir Frederick Brundrett, was due to retire at the end of the year.The choice of Zuckerman was not surprising. Since 1942, when he and his friend Desmond Bernal were recruited by Lord Louis Mountbatten to Combined Operations Headquarters, he had been associated with matters military. In the post-war period he had directed research into the biological effects of blast from nuclear explosions ( to which Series SZ/BUF refers), and the design of body armour and the wound ballistics of small arms ammunition, and the detection of land-mines (dealt with in Series SZ/MOW/1-3).

Since 1946 he had been deputy chairman of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy (ACSP, the subject of Series SZ/ACSP). He was also a member of a number of other advisory bodies. In 1958-1959 he chaired a special group set up by the Air Ministry, the Strategic Scientific Policy Committee, the chief task of which was to consider the future of the British nuclear deterrent (to which Series AMSSP refers). He was, by 1959, a familiar figure in Whitehall with a proven track record.

While Zuckerman was, according to his own account, agonising over whether or not to accept the post, the former Lord Louis Mountbatten, now Earl Mountbatten of Burma and Chief of the Naval Staff, was preparing to take up the role of Chief of the Defence Staff. Unlike Zuckerman he was not afflicted by indecision and made it clear that he wanted to have Zuckerman at his side, and presumably on his side, at the MoD.

Solly Zuckerman lived through interesting times at the MoD. The Ministry of the early 1960s was a mare's nest of territorial infighting between the Services and project cancellations. The political background was fraught. Zuckerman's first minister, Duncan Sandys, was firmly aligned with a strategy based on missiles rather than manned aircraft, and deeply disliked in some quarters. The next, Harold Watkinson, struggled to keep the TSR-2 aircraft project alive; his reward was inclusion among those friends whom the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, laid down to save his own (political) life. The third, and the last of the Conservative Ministers of Defence whom Zuckerman served, was Peter Thorneycroft, whose cross was the Skybolt missile.

In 1964 in came a Labour government. Zuckerman's empire was expanded with his appointment to the dual role of CSA to the MoD and to HM Government as a whole, and head of the scientific civil service. He had achieved a status comparable with the two colossi among scientific advisers, Lord Cherwell and Sir Henry Tizard. The Labour government also brought Dennis Healey to the MoD. He and Zuckerman did not hit it off. The 1965 Defence Review marked the parting of the ways and thereafter Zuckerman operated full-time from the Cabinet Office.

At the Cabinet Office defence, and more especially disarmament, remained major concerns for Zuckerman. He was also now in a more favourable position to promote his own ideas on the organisation of government research. The ACSP went and a Central Advisory Council for Science and Technology (CACST) with broader terms of reference was eventually established, which Zuckerman chaired. The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research was abolished and the research council system overhauled. A long-time concern of Zuckerman's had been the maintenance of a regular supply of well-qualified scientists, engineers and technicians. Elaborate plans were made for higher technological education, strongly influenced by North American models. The Special Institutions for Scientific and Technological Education and Research (SISTERS) were a case in point; Zuckerman wanted Britain to have its own MITs.

Between 1964 and his official retirement in 1971 Solly Zuckerman was the government's scientific trouble-shooter. His role in dealing with the environmental crisis resulting from the grounding of the oil tanker Torrey Canyon in March 1967 is reminiscent of his activities in World War II. Two years later he was urging draconian measures to prevent an outbreak of rabies (the subject of Series SZ/CIR). He led an enquiry into the organisation of scientific services in NHS hospitals (dealt with in Series SZ/CHST).


  • SZ/CSA/1 SHAPEX 61, 1961
  • SZ/CSA/2 - SZ/CSA/3 Advisory Council on Scientific Policy - meetings and correspondence arising, 1960-64
  • SZ/CSA/4 Advisory Council on Scientific Policy Scientific Manpower Committee - meetings and correspondence arising, 1960-65
  • SZ/CSA/5 Committee on Research into Natural Resources, 1960-64
  • SZ/CSA/6 Committee on Overseas Scientific Relations, 1961-65
  • SZ/CSA/7 Proportion of Technicians Engaged in Research, 1961
  • SZ/CSA/8 Recruitment of Scientists in North America, 1961-64
  • SZ/CSA/9 Scientific and Technical Register, 1961
  • SZ/CSA/10 Nuclear Warfare, 1961-62
  • SZ/CSA/11 Evidence to the Robbins Committee on Higher Education, 1961-63
  • SZ/CSA/12 Appointments to the Scientific Manpower Committee, 1962
  • SZ/CSA/13 Joint Enquiry on Technicians, 1961-64
  • SZ/CSA/14 Scientific Manpower Committee - correspondence with university appointments boards, 1962-63
  • SZ/CSA/15 Evidence to the Trend Committee on Civil Science, 1962-64
  • SZ/CSA/16 Advisory Council on Scientific Policy Scientific Manpower Committee - scientific manpower report, 1962-63
  • SZ/CSA/17 Natural Resources Research Council, 1964
  • SZ/CSA/18 Miscellaneous Publications and Lectures, 1960-66
  • SZ/CSA/19 SHAPEX 61 Paper Limitations to Human Judgement and Control, 1961-64
  • SZ/CSA/20 John Kendrew's RUSI Lecture 1962, 1962
  • SZ/CSA/21 SZ's Talk to the Bow Group 1962, 1962
  • SZ/CSA/22 SZ's Article for the Air Ministry Journal 1963, 1962-63
  • SZ/CSA/23 Society of Environmental Engineers Symposium and Exhibition, 1963
  • SZ/CSA/24 SZ's Contribution to the Indian Defence Science Journal 1963, 1963
  • SZ/CSA/25 Invitations to Lecture at the RAF Staff College, Andover 1963-66
  • SZ/CSA/26 Speech to Old Students' Association, University College Hospital 1965, 1965
  • SZ/CSA/27 Horizon BBC TV Programme on Prof. Bernal and the Tots and Quots 1966, 1938-1966
  • SZ/CSA/28 Sunday Telegraph Interview Regarding the 1965 British Association Meeting, 1965
  • SZ/CSA/29 British Transport Staff College Talk 1967, 1966-67
  • SZ/CSA/30 Address to the 10th Anniversary Meeting of the NATO Science Committee, 1968
  • SZ/CSA/31 International Conference on Oil Pollution of the Sea, 1968
  • SZ/CSA/32 Notes of Presentation to the Defence Board, 1961
  • SZ/CSA/33 Ministry of Defence - central organisation, 1949, 1963
  • SZ/CSA/34 Ministry of Aviation - reorganisation, 1964-65
  • SZ/CSA/35 Ministry of Defence - central organisation miscellanea, 1960-66
  • SZ/CSA/36 Letters of Congratulation to and from SZ, 1964-66
  • SZ/CSA/37 The Ditchley Foundation, 1963-66
  • SZ/CSA/38-SZ/CSA/39 Miscellaneous Invitations, 1963-66
  • SZ/CSA/40 International Centre of Generalisation, Paris, 1964
  • SZ/CSA/41 Visit to Daresbury Nuclear Physics Laboratory, 1965
  • SZ/CSA/42 The Countryside in 1970 Conference, 1965-66
  • SZ/CSA/43 Compendium of Quotations, Geneva, 1962
  • SZ/CSA/44 Talks with Prof. Lachs on Disarmament, 1962
  • SZ/CSA/45 Co-ordinating Machinery for the Scientific Civil Service, 1964
  • SZ/CSA/46 Article by Michael Shanks, 1963
  • SZ/CSA/47 Administration of the Ministry of Defence, 196?
  • SZ/CSA/48 Agreements with the Ministry of Defence, 196?
  • SZ/CSA/49 Anglo-American Relations, 196?
  • SZ/CSA/50 Atlantic College, 1963-65
  • SZ/CSA/51 Blue Water Nuclear Missile - effects of cancellation, 1965
  • SZ/CSA/52 Aircraft-carriers, 1963-1990
  • SZ/CSA/53 Catamaran Vessels, 1963-65
  • SZ/CSA/54 Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Defence Science, 1961
  • SZ/CSA/55 Defence Research Policy Committee, 196?
  • SZ/CSA/56 Defence Review 1966, 1960-66
  • SZ/CSA/57 Dieldrin - use of toxic chemicals in agriculture, 1963
  • SZ/CSA/58 East of Suez Policy - C. Mayhew, 1966
  • SZ/CSA/59 F-111, 1963-68
  • SZ/CSA/60 Ferranti Ltd, 1963-64
  • SZ/CSA/61 Foreign Office - minimum deterrent force, 1966
  • SZ/CSA/62 Fuel Cells and Propulsion, 1962-65
  • SZ/CSA/63 Grosseto Airfield, Italy, 1965
  • SZ/CSA/64 Indian R&D Technology for Defence (Brig. Chakravarti), 1966
  • SZ/CSA/65 Proposal for International Centre, Covent Garden, 1963-64
  • SZ/CSA/66 President Kennedy's Visit to London 1963, 1963
  • SZ/CSA/67 Killian Commission, 1961-63
  • SZ/CSA/68 Labour Party Foreign Policy and Defence, 1960
  • SZ/CSA/69 Management, 196?
  • SZ/CSA/70 Multi-lateral Force, 1962-64
  • SZ/CSA/71 NATO, 1962-67
  • SZ/CSA/72 Natural Resources Advisory Committee, 196?
  • SZ/CSA/73 Naval Warfare Panel Problems, 1963
  • SZ/CSA/74 Needles in Space, 1963
  • SZ/CSA/75 Nuclear Defence Weapons, 196?
  • SZ/CSA/76 Central Responsibility in Nuclear Policy, 1965
  • SZ/CSA/77 Publicity Following the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, 1963
  • SZ/CSA/78 The P.1154 Aircraft, 1963-68
  • SZ/CSA/79 Pension Rights of Scientists in United States Government, Industry, and Universities, 1960-65
  • SZ/CSA/80 Personal Official Papers, 196?
  • SZ/CSA/81 Polaris, 1962-64
  • SZ/CSA/82 Cuttings Relating to the R&D Costs of Polaris. 1964?
  • SZ/CSA/83 Talks with the Polish Ambassador, Dr Rodzinski, 1963-67
  • SZ/CSA/84 Pugwash Conference, 1961
  • SZ/CSA/85 Reorganisation of the Service and Defence Ministries, 1956-63
  • SZ/CSA/86 Draft Programme for the Proposed Working Party on the Co-ordination of Research and Development, 1966
  • SZ/CSA/87 SHAPEX 61 Talk - drafts, 1961?
  • SZ/CSA/88 Skybolt, 1961
  • SZ/CSA/89 Southern Observatory, 196?
  • SZ/CSA/90 Staff, 196?
  • SZ/CSA/91 Notes on Talks with Dr Stikker, 1963
  • SZ/CSA/92 STOCKTAKE Meetings, 1960-63
  • SZ/CSA/93 Tactical Nuclear Weapons - SZ's Twenty Propositions, 1962-63
  • SZ/CSA/94 Tattoos, 1965
  • SZ/CSA/95 - SZ/CSA/96 TSR-2, 1960-66
  • SZ/CSA/97 United States Institute for Defence Analysis, 196?
  • SZ/CSA/98 The War Game, 1966
  • SZ/CSA/99 - SZ/CSA/118 Correspondents A-Y, 1934-1983
  • SZ/CSA/119 Correspondence with Dr A.H. Zimmerman, 1960-63
  • SZ/CSA/120 Aircraft, 1970
  • SZ/CSA/121 Anglo-French Aviation Collaboration, 1966-1970
  • SZ/CSA/122 Correspondence with Admiral Rickover, 196?
  • SZ/CSA/123 Papers About Admiral Rickover, 1959-1965
  • SZ/CSA/124 Test Ban Treaty Correspondence, 196?
  • SZ/CSA/125 Correspondence with the Prime Minister, 1964-1971
  • SZ/CSA/126 Correspondence with H.P. Robertson, 1950-1963
  • SZ/CSA/127 John Stack's Papers, 1966
  • SZ/CSA/128-SZ/CSA/131 Miscellaneous U.S. Correspondence, 1961-1971
  • SZ/CSA/132 Correspondence with I.I. Rabi, 1962-66
  • SZ/CSA/133 Correspondence with Jerome Wiesner, 1961-66
  • SZ/CSA/134 - SZ/CSA/144 Miscellaneous Personal Correspondence, 1961-1976
  • SZ/CSA/145 Correspondence with Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, 1970-71 Closed
  • SZ/CSA/146 Correspondence with Sir T. Morrison-Scott, 1967-1983
  • SZ/CSA/147 Correspondence with Paul Willert and Thomas Bunzl, 1967-1970
  • SZ/CSA/148 Correspondence with Gerard F. Bauer, 1967-69
  • SZ/CSA/149 Correspondence with Christopher Layton, 1967
  • SZ/CSA/150 Correspondence with Mr Hugh Cudlipp, 1967
  • SZ/CSA/151 Correspondence with W.J. Tarver, 1969
  • SZ/CSA/152 Investigations in Loch Ness, 1961-66
  • SZ/CSA/153 Nord-Aviation and Missile Development, 1963-65
  • SZ/CSA/154 Ministry of Technology, 1964
  • SZ/CSA/154a Ministry of Industrial Technology and Supply, 1957-1969
  • SZ/CSA/155 Trend Report, 1963
  • SZ/CSA/156 Weather Rockets, 1963
  • SZ/CSA/157 International Co-operation in Research and Development, 1964-65
  • SZ/CSA/158 Co-ordination of Advice, 1963-64
  • SZ/CSA/159 Prison Security, 1966 Closed
  • SZ/CSA/160 Scientists and Engineers, 1966
  • SZ/CSA/161 Wageningen Agricultural University, 1964-67
  • SZ/CSA/162 Central Advisory Council for Science and Technology - setting up of the Council, 1966
  • SZ/CSA/163 Torrey Canyon, 1967-1971
  • SZ/CSA/164 Income Tax Relief for Educational Expenses, 1965-66
  • SZ/CSA/165 Agricultural Work Study and Ergonomics, 1966-67
  • SZ/CSA/166 Taxation - correspondence with E.M. Behrens, R.D. Young and the Treasury, 1967
  • SZ/CSA/167 Select Committee on Science and Technology - inquiry into defence R&D, 1968
  • SZ/CSA/168 Atlantic Salmon Research Trust, 1967-1970
  • SZ/CSA/169 Electronics - A New Basis for Procurement (Plessey report), 1967
  • SZ/CSA/170 Aldabra, 1967
  • SZ/CSA/171 Stansted, 1967
  • SZ/CSA/172 Foot-and-Mouth Disease, 1967-68
  • SZ/CSA/173 Computers: ICT/English Electric and European industry, 1967-68
  • SZ/CSA/174 Support for the Pugwash Movement, 1967-1972
  • SZ/CSA/175 Investment Grants, 1967-68
  • SZ/CSA/176 Bedford College, 1968-1971
  • SZ/CSA/177 Weather Vane - visit to HMS Sultan, 1967-69
  • SZ/CSA/178 Irradiation Disinfestation of Grain, 1968
  • SZ/CSA/179 Rowntree Legal Research Unit, 1968-69
  • SZ/CSA/180 Central Advisory Council Study of Technological Innovation, 1968-69
  • SZ/CSA/181 Educational Television - Ford Foundation papers, 1968
  • SZ/CSA/182 Flat TV Displays, 1968-1970
  • SZ/CSA/183 University of East Anglia, 1967-1970
  • SZ/CSA/184 Relations Between MAFF and ARC, 1953-1970
  • SZ/CSA/185 C.D. de F. Hedges - Co-ordination of sea and land transport, 1969-1970
  • SZ/CSA/186 University of Reading - arrangements for overseas students, 1969-1970
  • SZ/CSA/187 Articles by Mr Gvishiani, 1969-1971
  • SZ/CSA/188 Use of Dogs to Detect Metals and Explosives, 1955-1970
  • SZ/CSA/189 Science-based Industries in the United States, 1967-69
  • SZ/CSA/190 Nuclear Power/Coal, 1966-67
  • SZ/CSA/191 SALT, 1969
  • SZ/CSA/192 Skybolt, 1960-1963
  • SZ/CSA/193-SZ/CSA/197 Miscellaneous Invitations 1967-1971
  • SZ/CSA/198 Visit to India March 1971, 1967-1971

The contents of this series were originally Zuckerman's personal files at the MoD and the Cabinet Office and his CSA files at Birmingham University. The three groupings and their filing order have been retained; the sequence is Birmingham files, ex-MoD files, ex-Cabinet Office files.

Access Information

Certain files are closed indefinitely. These are indicated in the guide and catalogue to this series.



Geographical Names