SMITH, Sir Frank Edward (1876-1969)

Scope and Content

Papers relating to Sir Frank Edward Smith, 1952-1973, comprising Royal Society memoir, correspondence, articles, biographical material, and reminiscences assembled by Sir Charles Goodeve, author of the Royal Society memoir of Smith.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born Aston, Birmingham, 1876; educated at Smethwick Central School, 1888-1891, Birmingham Technical School (now Aston University), 1894-1895; Royal College of Science (Imperial College), scholarship, 1897-1900; Assistant Demonstrator, 1900-1901; moved to the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, 1901-1920, involved with naval research, [1914-1918]; Superintendent of the Electricity Department, 1917; elected Fellow of the Royal Society, 1918; first Director of Scientific Research, at the Admiralty, 1920; awarded Hughes Medal, 1925; Physical Secretary of the Royal Society, 1929-1938; knighted (GCB), 1931; Secretary, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1929-1939; Director, Instrument Production, Ministry of Supply, 1939-1942; Director of Telecommunications, Ministry of Aircraft Production, 1940-1942; Chairman, Technical Defence Committee; MI5, 1940-1946; Chairman, Scientific Advisory Council, 1941-1947; Chairman of the Road Research Board, 1946-1954; adviser on research and development with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later British Petroleum), 1939-1955; adviser, Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA), 1944-1957; died, 1969. Publications: Reports of the Committee on Electrical Standards ... A record of the history of "Absolute Units" and of Lord Kelvin's work in connexion with These Editor (Cambridge, 1913); Physics in Navigation (1927); Chemistry and the Community (London, 1932); Industrial Research and the Nation's Balance Sheet (London, [1932]); Measurement of the Effectiveness of the Productive Unit with Richard, Baron Beeching (British Institute of Management: London, [1949]); The Critical Importance of Higher Technological Education in relation to Productivity (British Association for the Advancement of Science, London, [1951]).

Access Information


Researchers wishing to consult the Archives should first contact the College Archivist, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2AZ, for an appointment.

Acquisition Information

Transferred from the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, University of Bath, to the College Archives in 1974.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue is available in the reading room of the College Archives (CSAC catalogue no 9/3/74).

Separated Material

For Sir Frank Edward Smith: records of the Department of Electrical Engineering, Imperial College (KEE). Correspondence with Sir Henry Thomas Tizard, 1929-1942, held at the Imperial War Museum Department of Documents (reference: HTT); correspondence with Lord Cherwell, 1923-1951, held at Oxford University, Nuffield College Library (reference: Cherwell papers).

For Sir Charles Frederick Goodeve: correspondence with Gordon Sutherland, 1958, 1961, held at Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives (reference: CSAC89/7/82); correspondence and papers held at Cambridge University, Churchill Archives Centre (reference: GOEV); lecture notes, 1930-1945, held at London University, University College Manuscripts Room (reference: MS Add 394).

Conditions Governing Use

A photocopying service is available at the discretion of the Archivist. Photocopies are supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Archivist.

Custodial History

The papers were received by the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, University of Bath, from Sir Charles Goodeve in 1973.


Memoir by Sir Charles Goodeve, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society vol 18, 1972