The Papers of John Edward Marr

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises 68 expedition notebooks (1875-1925) covering a variety of places in the UK (Yorkshire, Wales, Cumbria) and Bohemia. They include maps, sketches and notes about fossils collected. There are also notes and some correspondence in the collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Edward Marr was born at Morecambe, Poulton-le-Sands, Lancashire June 14th 1857, the youngest of 9 children born to John Marr, a Lancaster merchant trader and partner in a silk mill at Wray, and his wife Mary (nee Simpson).

The family moved to Caernarvon in 1863 where Marr attended school. He later attended the Royal Lancaster Grammar School where he met R.H Tiddeman of the geological survey and accompanied him on a number of field excursions.

He entered St Johns College, Cambridge as an exhibitioner in 1875, but soon became a scholar. He obtained a first class degree in the Natural Sciences in 1878 and was elected a fellow of his college in 1881 which he retained until his death.

His first paper on the older rocks of the Lake District was published in 1878. This was to be a forerunner of a series of outstanding contributions that were published at frequent intervals during his life.

Immediately after taking his degree Marr made comparative studies of the Lower Palaeozoic rocks in Bohemia and Scandinavia. In Nature magazine in the 18th November 1933 issue, it describes how his investigations into the so-called colonies of Barrande, and the resulting work produced was a most important contribution to science.

Immediately after taking his degree Marr made comparative studies of the Lower Palaeozoic rocks in Bohemia and Scandinavia. In Nature magazine in the 18th November 1933 issue, it describes how his investigations into the so-called ‘colonies' of Barrande, and the resulting work produced was a most important contribution to science.

His interest in the Stratigraphy of the Lake District took him to practically every part of the region, exploring the rocks of the Lake District and North Wales. On the 1881 Census he is shown staying in Penrith, with his brother Francis, and his occupation is given as Geologist B.A. Camb Sc & Persuit.

He published papers on Skiddaw Slates, Borrowdale Volcanic Series, Coniston Limestone, Dufton Shales, Coniston Grits and many more. In another series of papers he discussed the origin of the lakes and tarns of Lakeland, showing how most of them were due to damming by glacial drift rather than true rock basins.

With the then Woodwardian Professor Thomas McKenny Hughes and others, he was largely instrumental in making Cambridge the foremost school of geology in Britain. He succeeded to the Woodwardian Chair in 1917.

As well as his work at Cambridge, he was active in geological activities elsewhere. He served on the Council of the Geological Society for almost forty years, acting as secretary for ten years, and he was President from 1904 to 1906. He received from the Society three medals in recognition of his services to geology, receiving the societies highest award the Wollaston Medal in 1914. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1891, he was awarded a Royal Medal by the Society in 1930.

He died in Cambridge on the 1st October 1933. In 1934 a memorial tablet was placed in a wall on the promenade, in front of the house where he was born in Morecambe. The ceremony was attended by the President of the Royal Society, Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, and other distinguished guests. The tablet was unveiled by Professor Marr's only surviving sister, Mrs Walker Jones of Kendal.

Arrangement

Original order of these files amalgamated into boxes in the 1990s has been lost. No clear original order of these records, or the others exists.

Listing of the notebooks began by Dr Lyall Anderson in January 2012.

The collection is still to be arranged and catalogued.

Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for consultation by researchers using Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. However, as the papers have not been appraised, there may be some closures.

The Geological Conservation Unit [Brighton Building] is open from Monday to Friday, 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00. A prior appointment made at least two weeks in advance, and two forms of identification are required.

Please contact the Museum sedgwickmuseum@esc.cam.ac.uk to ask about the collection or to make an appointment.

Please contact the Archivist, Sandra Marsh sjm259@cam.ac.uk to make an appointment or make an enquiry about the collection.

Other Finding Aids

There are typed notes describing many of the notebooks. These have not been edited or arranged in any way, and are unfinished. This was due to insufficient funds.

The DDF Archive Inventory spreadsheet is available which contains basic box listing entries for the legacy records of the Sedgwick Museum and Department of Earth Sciences. Please ask staff for further information.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Some of the material is fragile. Staff will advise.

Archivist's Note

This collection level description was created by Sandra Marsh of Sedgwick Museum in December 2010 using information from John Marrs entry in Who Was Who (A and C Black, 1997) the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB), Obituary in Nature (November 18th, 1933) and from the papers themselves. From January until May 2012 Dr Lyall Anderson undertook description work on the collection.

Nature (November 18th, 1933) and from the papers themselves.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies, photographs, and printouts from scanned images may be provided. Charges may apply. Readers may also use their own digital cameras subject to copyright legislation and in-house rules.

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Sedgwick Museum Staff.

Please cite as Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, The Papers of John Edward Marr, MARR

Appraisal Information

The collection is still to be appraised.

Custodial History

6 boxes were identified as being records created or retained by John Edward Marr. 3 of these were repackaged into conservation grade boxes during the DDF project (2010-2011). The remaining boxes contain notebooks which still need careful cleaning. Many have however, been repackaged by a volunteer.

6 boxes were identified as being records created or retained by John Edward Marr. 3 of these were repackaged into conservation grade boxes during the DDF project (2010-2011). The remaining boxes contain notebooks which need careful cleaning and repackaging.

As no documentation could be recovered in legacy Museum correspondence files to ascertain the provenance or acquisition details, it is not clear when these records were physically transferred to the Museum.

The records had been transferred from the Sedgwick Museum [Downing Street, Cambridge] to the Geological Conservation Unit [Madingley Road] between 1991-2009.

Accruals

No more records are currently expected.