Adhmar de Saint-Venant: Papers on an article by G.G. Stokes

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Correspondence and notes, written in 1862, on G.G. Stokes' article 'On the theories of the internal friction of fluids in motion, and of the equilibrium and motion of elastic solids', read to the Cambridge Philosophical Society on 14 April 1845. The volume contains pages 241-414 of the Society's Transactions, vol. VIII, part III (Cambridge University Press, 1847), of which Stokes' article forms pages 287-319. The letters and notes are inserted into the volume next to the article, sections of which have been annotated with a French translation. The volume includes a second article by Stokes, 'Supplement to a memoir on some cases of fluid motion' (pp. 409-414), which was read to the Society on 3 November 1846.

Administrative / Biographical History

Adhmar Jean Claude Barr de Saint-Venant (1797-1886), mathematician, was born at Seine-et-Marne, France, on 23 August 1797. He attended the cole Polytechnique before starting a career as a civil engineer. He attended lectures at the Collège de France, and taught mathematics at the École des Ponts et Chausses. Saint-Venant carried out work on mechanics, elasticity, hydrostatics and hydrodynamics. He died at St Ouen, Loir-et-Cher, on 6 January 1886.

Sir George Gabriel Stokes (1819-1903), 1st Baronet, mathematician and physicist, was born at Skreen, co. Sligo, on 13 August 1819. He attended schools in Dublin and Bristol before joining Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1837, where he was senior wrangler and first Smith's prizeman in 1841. He became a Fellow of Pembroke in 1841, and was Master, 1902-1903. While at Cambridge he developed a close friendship with William Thomson, Lord Kelvin. Stokes became Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge in 1849, a position he held until his death. He developed Lagrange's theory of the motion of viscous fluids, and carried out work on optics. He contributed to the discovery and development of spectrum analysis, and in 1852 discovered the nature of fluorescence. He was also instrumental in founding the modern science of geodesy. Stokes was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1851, and served as its Secretary, 1854-1885, and President, 1885-1890. Between 1887 and 1891 he was the Conservative M.P. for Cambridge University. He was created baronet in 1889, and died in Cambridge on 1 February 1903.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Purchased at Sotheby's, 2 May 1979.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on G.G. Stokes in Sir Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of national biography, 1901-1911, vol. III (Oxford University Press, 1927), pp. 421-424.

Other Finding Aids


Related Material

Cambridge University Library holds other papers relating to G.G. Stokes, MSS.Add.2744/9 and 7656.