Papers of Sir Arthur Vick (1911-1998), academic and physicist

Scope and Content

These papers relate to Sir Arthur Vick's career and interests from the time of his postgraduate studies and the Second World War until his death in 1998. The collection comprises correspondence and subject files and includes papers relating to his career (1936-97), the various professional associations and bodies to which he was attached (1930-96), his correspondence and personalia (including two diaries for 1937-8 and a 1915 Niels Bohr manuscript article 'The Spectra of Hydrogen and Helium', printed in 'Nature' the same year) (1915-98), published scientific material and papers relating to his own lectures, publications, conferences and visits (1887-1998), besides a variety of material relating to African and British universities and higher education on a national and international level (1930-96). A later deposit of papers and personal correspondence relating to his career and interests covers the period 1939-98.

The material concerning his career (correspondence, minutes, notes, newscuttings and publications) relates to: the Ministry of Supply (1939-1981); University College, London (1936-1992); the University of Manchester (1937-1981); the University College of North Staffordshire, Keele (1949-1996); the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell (1959-1991); and the Queen's University, Belfast (1965-1996). Also included in this series are papers relating to his involvement with Warwick University (essentially after his retirement in 1976) (1964-1997).

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir (Francis) Arthur Vick was born in Solihull on 5 June 1911. He attended Waverley Grammar School in Birmingham, later reading Physics at Birmingham University (B.Sc., 1932; with Honours, 1933) and subsequently taking his Ph.D. in solid state physics there, which he completed in 1936. His specialism was solid state physics. He began his career as an Assistant Lecturer and Lecturer in Physics at University College, London, 1936-39. In 1939-44 he worked at the Ministry of Supply as Assistant Director of Research, directing research into mechanical and proximity fuses. He was awarded the OBE in January 1945. He then returned to his career as an academic physicist first at Manchester, 1944-50 (as a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Physics) and then University College of North Staffordshire, Keele, from 1950-59 (Professor of Physics), where he was Vice-Principal (and Acting Principal) from 1950-54. The college gained university status and became the University of Keele in 1962. He was Vice-President of the Institute of Physics from 1953-56 and Honorary Secretary, 1956-c.60. In 1959, he became the Deputy Director (Director in 1960) of the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, and was also Director of Research Group in the UK Atomic Energy Authority during the same years, 1959-64. He was a member of the University Grants Committee, 1959-66, and a member of its New Universities Sub-Committee, and was President of the Association of Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education, 1964-72. In 1966 he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University, Belfast, where he succeeded in maintaining a non-sectarian environment for peaceful study and developed both the University Arts Festival and links with industry. He was knighted in 1973 for his services to Northern Ireland and retired in 1976. During his retirement he became closely involved with the University of Warwick, being Chairman of its Council from 1977-90 and Pro-Chancellor from 1977-92. He was also a member of the Modern Records Centre's Advisory Board (1978-88). Sir Arthur died on 2 September 1998.

Reference: Debrett's Peerage Limited 'People of Today' (London, 1993); 'University of Warwick Newsletter', no. 233 (October 1998).

Access Information

Subject to certain conditions (described in the full catalogue), this collection is available to researchers by appointment at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. See

Acquisition Information

These papers were deposited with the Centre by Christine Vick in March 1999 and an additional deposit of papers was made in March 2000.

Other Finding Aids

Appraisal Information

The collection has been weeded for duplicates.

Photocopies of published material have also been removed in accordance with copyright law, and these items are recorded below:

From MSS.395/3/28/1: D. Thoday, 'Halls of Residence', from 'Universities Quarterly', c.1957; P.H. Mann & G. Mills, 'Living and Learning at Redbrick', 'Universities Quarterly', c.1961; P.B. Warr, 'Attitudes and Behaviour in a Hall of Residence', 'Universities Quarterly' c.1964; 'The Right to a Fair Hearing', 'New Society', 17 Feb 1966; 'Another Turning-point for Universities', 'Nature', 5 Apr 1969; 'Who wants to be a student?', 'Nature', 12 Apr 1969; 'Undermining the universities', 'TLS', 19 Mar 1970; 'Hoover pinpoints dangers of campus extremism', 'The Guardian', 25 Sep 1970; 'Future of the Universities', 'The Times', 6 Apr 1971; 'Squeezing in the Students', 'The Times', 7 Apr 1971; 'Universities or schools conflict in education budget', 'The Times', 10 Apr 1971; 'Future of universities', printed letter, 'The Times', 15 Apr 1971; 'Education - The Ethical Investor', 'Newsweek', 3 Jul 1972. Also: 'The Long Shadow of the University', 'Education in Chemistry' 5 (1968) and B. Ford, 'Qualified - but for what?', 'New Scientist', 30 May 1968 (which accompanied correspondence with Professor H.B. Henbest of 5-6 Jun 1968).

From MSS.395/3/28/3: 'Are Universities fit for Students? Sixth sense', 'The Guardian', 18 Oct 1968; 'Letters to the Editor' - 'Chaotic introduction of GCSE', 'The Times', 20 Mar 1986; 'English teaching as racism', 'The Times' 1 May 1986; F.H. George, 'Man and the Computer' (journal article?, c.1980).

From MSS.395/3/31/1: 'Panel reports CTR program needs financial transfusion', 'Nuclear Industry' 13:2 (1966), pp. 31-4.

From MSS.395/3/38/3: F.N. Sutherland, 'Liaison between the Electronics Industry and Universities', 'N.E.C. Review' 4:1 (1968), pp. 5-8.

From MSS.395/3/39/1-6: H. Geiger, 'On the scattering of the alpha-Particles by Matter', 'Proceedings of the Royal Society' (Series A, 81, 1908), pp. 174-7); H. Geiger, 'On a diffuse reflection of the alpha-Particles', 'Proceedings of the Royal Society' (Series A, 82, 1909), pp. 495-500; H. Geiger, 'The scattering of the alpha-Particles by Matter', 'Proceedings of the Royal Society' (Series A, 83, 1910), pp. 492-504; M.L. Johnson, 'A Course on Factors Influencing Scientific Judgment', 'Journal of Medical Education' 30:7 (1955), pp. 391-7; E. Montale, 'Xenia II', 'London Magazine' (translated by G. Singh, April 1968); E. Montale 'The Paintings in the Cellar', 'London Magazine' (translated by G. Singh, November 1968); G. Singh, 'Italian Literary Magazines' in the 'Times Literary Supplement' for 28 November 1968, p. 1349; E. Montale, 'In Retrospect' (translated by G. Singh) in the 'Times Literary Supplement' for 23 January 1969; E. Montale, 'The Man in Pyjamas', 'London Magazine' (translated by G. Singh, February 1969), pp. 28-31; G. Singh, 'A.E. Housman and Leopardi' in 'English Miscellany' (c.1971), pp. 115-33; J.D. Stolzman, 'Edward Shils on consensus: an appreciation and critique' (c.1971); F.R. Leavis, 'Memories of Wittgenstein', 'The Human World' 10 (1973); A. Pais, 'Inward bound: of matter and forces in the physical world' (Oxford, 1986), pp. 188-91; B. Bollobas, 'Ramanujan - a glimpse of his life and his mathematics', 'The Cambridge Review' (1988); J. Holden, 'Ramanujan' (n.d., from G. Singh); G. Singh, 'Mario Luzi', 'Books Abroad' (n.d.).

From MSS.395/3/42/3: M. Bundy, 'The Scientist and National Policy', 'Science' 139 (1963), pp. 805-809; D.J. de Solla Price, 'A Calculus of Science', 'International Science and Technology' (Mar 1963), pp. 37-44.

From MSS.395/3/47/1: 'Lord Boyle: Courage and warmth were hallmarks of a gallant fighter', 'Yorkshire Evening Post' 29 Sep 1981, p. 3.

From MSS.395/3/48/1: 'Academic freedom in the Lords?', 'AUT Bulletin' (May 1988), pp. 2-3; 'The no-pay scandal: President's address to council at City University: 19 May', 'AUT Bulletin' (June 1988), pp. 9, 12, 15.

From MSS.395/3/56/2: R.J. Wert, 'Collegians', 'THINK' (IBM Magazine) 31:6 (Nov-Dec 1965), pp. 9-12.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

The Centre also holds the records of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP) (MSS.399).

A copy of the Niels Bohr manuscript article (1915) (MSS.395/3/44/1) was donated by Sir Arthur to the Bohr Archive at the Niels Bohr Institutet, Denmark, where futher material on the Danish physicist can be found.

The archives of the following are held at The National Archives: Inter-University Council for Higher Education Overseas (ref. BW 90); United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell (Scientific and Technical Administration, correspondence and papers, 1952-1981) (ref. AB 57); Culham Laboratory (in the class AB); the Ministry of Supply (in the class SUPP).