Papers of Professor James Hartley Ashworth (1874-1936)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-285
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      6 box files, 14 notebooks, 3 diaries, 1 envelope.
  • Location
      Dk.1.20-25; Dk.4.42-55; Gen. 855-859

Scope and Content

The collection consists of papers, notebooks of courses taken at Owens College, Manchester, 1892-1895, and diaries of visits to, for example Australia for meetings of the British Association, June-October 1914, and to Canada, USA, Cuba and Panama.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Hartley Ashworth was born on 2 May 1874 in Accrington, Lancashire, and was brought up in Burnley. In 1892 he entered Owens College, Manchester, with the intention of studying chemistry. Instead, he turned towards zoology. In 1895 he graduated from London University with the degree of B.Sc. with Honours in Zoology and Botany, and obtained a D.Sc. from the same institution in 1899. After a temporary post as Demonstrator and Assistant Lecturer back at Owens, Ashworth spent several months at the Biological Station in Naples where he became interested in marine biology and marine zoology. In 1900 he was appointed as an Assistant at Edinburgh University and in 1901 he became Lecturer in Invertebrate Zoology. In 1905 a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene was instituted and Ashworth worked vigorously to organise the classes in entomology and parasitology (medical entomology and protozoology). The course was extended to cover Helminthology and to the institution of the Diploma in Public Health and then the Diploma in Tropical Veterinary Medicine. In 1919 he was appointed to a new Chair of Zoology taking over the Invertebrates while Professor James Cossar Ewart (1851-1933) remained in charge of Vertebrata. When James Cossar Ewart retired in 1927, Ashworth succeeded to the Chair of Natural History. He worked hard to improve conditions for his Department and established a building fund to which the Rockefeller Foundation made a substantial grant. A new departmental building was opened at the University's King's Buildings site on 15 May 1929 and became known as the Ashworth Laboratory. Ashworth's publications include The giant nerve cells and fibres of Halla parthenopeia (1909), a piece on Arenicolidae for the Catalogue of the Chaetopoda in the British Museum (1912), and On larvae of Lingula and Pelagodiscus (Discinisca) (1915). In addition to his departmental responsibilities, he was an active member of the Royal Physical Society, the Scottish Zoological Society, and the British Association, and he also served on the Council of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Professor James Hartley Ashworth died on 4 February 1936.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Papers and notebooks presented by Mrs. J. H. Ashworth, 1953. Diaries bequeathed by Mrs. Ashworth, January 1966, Accession no. E66.34.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Obituary. James Hartley Ashworth, D.Sc., F.R.S. University of Edinburgh journal. Vol.8. 1936-1937. pp.74-76. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. (2) Burnett, John H. (et al.). The university portraits. Second series. pp.12-14. Edinburgh: Eyre and Spottiswoode Ltd., 1986. (3) Who was who 1929-1940. A companion to Who's who.... London: Adam and Charles Black, 1941. (4) ) Obituary notices. James Hartley Ashworth, D.Sc., F.R.S. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Vol.56. 1935-1936. Edinburgh: Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

The UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: correspondence, notes and collections of slides, National Museums of Scotland, Chambers Street, Ref. NRA(S)3330 NRA 35316 National Mus of Scot; and, letters (12) to ET Browne, 1901-1915, Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, Ref. PBR30 NRA 38150 Marine.