Papers of Dr Sam Lilley (1914-1987), science lecturer at the University of Nottingham,c.1930s-1950s

Scope and Content

The bulk of the collection consists of research notes made during Lilley's time at St. John'sCollege, Cambridge, relating to various aspects of the history, ideology, politics and impact onsociety of science and technology from early civilisation to the twentieth century. The notesinclude bibliography, extracts from many sources, and chronologies of science and technologymilestones. c.1948 (MS 200/1);

Also present are photographs and postcards including as subjects the bridge at Ironbridge,Shropshire; people on a field study; and memorials of James Watt and Matthew Boulton in St. Mary'schurch, Handsworth. c.1953 (MS 200/2).

Administrative / Biographical History

Sam Lilley was born in Belfast on 25 June 1914. He was educated at the Belfast AcademicalInstitution. At Queen's University, Belfast he gained a first class honours degree in mathematicsand mathematical physics in 1935 and, in the following year, an M.Sc. in algebraic geometry. Hemoved to St. John's College, Cambridge for postgraduate research and was awarded a Ph.D. in 1939. In1938-1939, Dr Lilley was an assistant lecturer in mathematics at King's College, London. During thewar, he worked as an experimental officer in the Armaments Research Department of the Ministry ofSupply. He became interested at this time in the history of science and technology. In 1940, he wasawarded a Fellowship in mathematics at St. John's, but deferred until 1948 when he changed hissubject to the history of science and technology.

In the late 1940s, Lilley began working as an adult education science teacher in Nottingham, witha particular interest in relativity. His works included 'Men Machines and History', 'Automation andSocial Progress', 'Science and Progress' and 'Discovering Relativity for Yourself' (CambridgeUniversity Press, 1981). Dr Lilley was a long-standing member of the Communist Party.


The collection has been divided by document type into two series. Within these series, items havebeen arranged chronologically.

Access Information

ACCESS: Access restricted pending full listing andprocessing; prospective researchers should contact the Department for advice concerning availableseries.


Other Finding Aids

  • This description is the only finding aid available for the collection. Copyright in thedescription belongs to The University of Nottingham.

Conditions Governing Use

REPROGRAPHIC: Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposesonly, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

COPYRIGHT: Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult.Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advancein writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email

Custodial History

The collection was acquired by the University of Nottingham's Department of Manuscripts andSpecial Collections in March 1992.