Papers and correspondence of Andrew Keller, 1925-1999.

Scope and Content

Biographical material includes obituaries, a copy of the Royal Society Biographical Memoir and a number of biographical accounts. There is some documentation of Keller's career, honours and awards, including his Hungarian Ph.D. thesis, completed but never submitted, his career at Bristol and his election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1972. There are also diaries, 1983-1992, and a number of photographs featuring Keller and colleagues at Bristol and attending conferences.

Documentation of Keller's association with the University of Bristol comprises general university correspondence and papers, and material relating to the Department of Physics. University material is principally correspondence with Vice-Chancellors and senior administrators, 1959-1991. Departmental material includes correspondence with Directors and other senior members of the H.H. Wills Physics Laboratory; papers relating to the organisation of research including accommodation, staffing, equipment and supplies; teaching material in the form of lecture notes, syllabuses and project outlines, including papers for M.Sc. physics courses; and an extended sequence of correspondence and papers, 1966-1991, relating to researchers and prospective researchers in Keller's laboratory.

There is comprehensive documentation of Keller's research, from the 1940s in Hungary to his very latest studies in the late 1990s. It is divided into six sequences: notebooks, early research notes, research topics, research colleagues, grant applications and reports, and material relating to patents.

The notebooks include exercise books used for student notes (chiefly if not wholly undergraduate) and mathematical calculations in Hungary in the 1940s, notebooks used by Keller at ICI and Bristol from 1949 to 1969, including work by research collaborators, and a series of jotters, mostly undated. The early research notes are manuscript and duplicated typescript notes and calculations dating from the 1940s to 1951 and mostly in Hungarian. Documentation of research topics comprises calculations, notes, drafts of papers and lectures, graphs and diagrams and correspondence found in Keller's folders and envelopes, presented in alphabetical order by title of subject - including significant documentation of topics such as collagen, flow orientation, PVC and polyethylene. Much of the material is undated but most of the dated items are of the 1970s and 1980s. Reflecting the highly collaborative nature of Keller's work, it includes a significant proportion of material in hands other than Keller's. This aspect of Keller's research work is the organising principle behind the research colleagues material. It presents reports and dissertations, calculations, notes and data organised by Keller by research collaborator and includes over 40 members of Keller's research team, visiting researchers and departmental colleagues. Grant applications and reports span the period, 1965-1999 and the material illustrates the great variety of funding bodies supporting Keller and his research group. The largest bodies of material relate to grants awarded by the Science Research Council and its successor the Science and Engineering Research Council. There is also a little material relating to patents taken out by Keller and colleagues.

Publications material includes drafts covering the period from 1957, with the latest item being a paper submitted to Macromolecules in 1998. There is editorial correspondence and papers, reflecting Keller's involvement with a wide range of journals in general science, physics and polymer science. Also presented is a set of offprints of Keller's publications, 1948-1998. Lectures material is the contents of Keller's designated lecture folders. Although most of the folders bore an inscription giving occasion, date and topic, few had all three. The material has therefore been divided into separate sequences of lectures: Chronological, Alphabetical by topic and Alphabetical by occasion. The bulk of the material is transparencies used as illustrations for lectures and talks, but there are also some notes for lectures, occasionally a script, and lists of transparencies and slides. Much of this material is undated but the bulk appears to be of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. There are also untitled notes.

Keller's visits and conferences are documented, 1955-1998. He travelled widely abroad, making frequent visits to the USA, particularly in connection with Gordon Research Conferences, and visits to the University of Akron and the General Tire &Rubber Co., Akron, Ohio and to Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. Other regular commitments included Europhysics Conferences on Macromolecular Physics, IUPAC Symposia on Macromolecules and visits to the Netherlands (DSM Research and the University of Groningen). Other destinations visited on a number of occasions included Germany, Hungary, China and Japan. In the UK Keller was a regular participant and speaker at meetings of the Polymer Physics Group, the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society, some of which he helped organise. Of particular note is the full documentation of the Chemical Society Faraday Discussion on Organisation of Macromolecules in the Condensed Phase, held in Cambridge in September 1979. Keller was an organiser, helped prepare the proceedings for publication and made an important contribution in the 'chain folding' debate.

Keller's involvement as member, officer and/or consultant with 50 UK, overseas and international bodies is documented, 1963-1999. The best documented of these are the Chemical Society (chiefly relating to Keller's service on the Chemical Society Faraday Division Organising Committee for the 1979 discussion meeting on Organisation of Macromolecules in the Condensed Phase); the Decrypo project (Structure DEvelopment during solidification in the processing of CRYstalline POlymers) funded by the European Commission, 1995-1998; the Solid State Commission of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (Keller was elected a member of the Commission at IUPAP's 1972 General Assembly); and the Polymer Physics Group, from discussions about its formation in 1963 to 1991. Keller chaired the Group, 1976-1981. There is also material relating to the Macro Group UK, a joint group of the Royal Society of Chemistry and Society of Chemical Industry.

Correspondence is the largest component of the archive. The bulk of the correspondence is presented as a chronological sequence, 1966-1999, following Keller's arrangement of his correspondence files by year and alphabetically within the year. However, within this sequence a number of years are missing in whole (1980-1983) or part (1969, 1970). Correspondence for 1972, found late, is presented as a separate sequence. There is also some miscellaneous correspondence found loose, 1955-1998. The correspondence is remarkably comprehensive, covering a wide range of Keller's activities as a research scientist, including some represented elsewhere in the catalogue such as lectures, publications, and visits and conferences, as well as plans for and progress of research. Correspondents include Bristol colleagues and former members of Keller's research group; colleagues and collaborators elsewhere in the UK and overseas; and organisations and institutions with which Keller was connected.

There is also substantial non-textual material. Of particular interest are a videotaped interview for the University of Bristol Department of Continuing Education, conducted on Keller's retirement, in which he discusses his polymer work at Bristol, and two videotapes of the proceedings of the Polymer Conference held in Bristol in April 1992 to mark Keller's retirement.

Administrative / Biographical History

Andras (anglicised as Andrew) Keller was born in Budapest, Hungary on 22 August 1925. He attended the University of Budapest, graduating B.Sc. in Chemistry in 1947, despite interruptions to his studies during the war. He went on to research under F. Krsy the volatilization of copper connected with the formation of volatile and unstable cuprous formate. He had completed his Ph.D. thesis and was awaiting his oral examination when in 1948 he left Hungary for the UK, largely prompted by the deteriorating political situation.

In Britain Keller was appointed a Technical Officer in the Polymer Division of the Research Department, ICI Dyestuffs Division. He served here to 1955, working on polymer characterisation, before joining the Department of Physics of the University of Bristol as a Research Assistant, supported by the Ministry of Supply (later Ministry of Aviation), working under F.C. Frank. Keller was subsequently appointed Lecturer in 1963, Reader 1965 and Research Professor in Polymers in 1969. He retired in 1991 and was made Professor Emeritus. Keller also held a number of Visiting Professorships in the USA, including Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio and the W.W. Clyde Visiting Professorship at the University of Utah. In the late 1990s he was an honorary Professor Associate in the Department of Materials Engineering at Brunel University.

Keller's research from the early 1950s was in the area of polymer crystallization. Using a variety of scientific techniques in his investigations, he pioneered the elucidation of the microstructure of crystallizing polymers. Keller's most significant scientific achievement was his 1957 hypothesis that polymer crystals were formed by long molecules folding back on themselves in a process of 'chain folding' . This hypothesis was supported by Keller's experimental work, initially with polyethylene and later with other polymers. The concept of chain folding has proved invaluable in understanding the physical and chemical properties of crystalline polymers and has opened up new possibilities for research, both academically and commercially. As A.H. Windle, Keller's Royal Society memorialist writes, 'In many ways Keller's observations of beautifully organized chain-folded crystals launched polymer physics' . Keller went on to develop this work with investigations of the mechanical properties of crystallizing polymers. In addition to his own research work, Keller built up a large and successful polymer research group at Bristol, forming significant academic and industrial collaborations in Britain and internationally.

Keller was elected FRS in 1972 (Rumford Medal 1994). Amongst his other honours were the High Polymer Prize of the American Physical Society (1964), the Swinburne Medal of the Plastics and Rubber Institute (1975), and the Max Born Medal of the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society. In 1998 Keller was elected an External Member of the Hungarian Academy of Science. He died on 7 February 1999.

For further information on the life and work of Keller see 'Andrew Keller (1925-1999)' , by A.H. Windle, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society vol 47 (2001) pp 293-310.


By section as follows: Biographical, University of Bristol, Research, Publications, Lectures, Visits and conferences, Societies, organisations and consultancies, Correspondence, References and recommendations, Non-textual material. Index of correspondents.

Access Information

Visits by appointment. Some form of identification required.

Acquisition Information

The papers were received from Bristol University Library in 2003. Returned to Bristol University Library 2004.

Other Finding Aids

Printed Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Andrew Keller: NCUACS catalogue no.130/3/04, 348pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath.