The material is presented in the order given in the List of Contents. It covers the period 1931-2002 but principally covers his career from the late 1960s.
Section A, Biographical, includes extensive biographical material, including obituaries and tributes and articles composed in his lifetime. Documentation of his career, honours ands awards includes the Institute of Physics' C.V. Boys Prize, Merrison's election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society and various honorary degrees and fellowships, chiefly from the 1980s. There are diaries for the year 1969 and much of the 1980s, which complement his engagement diaries in section B. Other material includes the letters of condolence received by Lady Merrison from friends and colleagues after his death and newspaper cuttings and photocopies of articles about Merrison.
Section B, University of Bristol, is short. It includes material relating to his appointment at and retirement from Bristol and some of the functions he attended. Most significant is the complete run of his engagement diaries as Vice-Chancellor covering the period 1971-1984.
Section C, Publications, includes a short sequence of drafts 1969-1979, mostly relating to particle physics, and a longer sequence of off-prints covering the period 1950-1988. The subjects covered include early work on neutron detectors, research on electron decay and particle physics, and the design of synchrotrons, as well as later publications on issues such as university research and science and government. This sequence is of particular note as Merrison often kept related correspondence and papers with his filed off-prints. The section concludes with a short sequence of editorial correspondence, reviews and letters to the press.
Section D, Lectures and broadcasts, covers the period 1965-1988. It includes lectures, orations and talks given as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol and speeches to national and local associations and societies as chairman of a government committee or in another official capacity. There are few lectures on purely scientific topics. Subjects typically include the funding and administration of universities, the relationship between science and government and funding of medical care. Most of the material is typescript notes for the lecture and not all have either a title or indication of the occasion.
Section E, Societies and organisations, is the largest in the collection. It includes documentation of Merrison's connection with 29 Bristol, national and international organisations. The largest component of this section relates to his service for the Department of Energy on the Severn Barrage Committee, the documentation providing comprehensive coverage of the work of the Committee in assessing the potential advantages and difficulties involved. Although material relating to some of Merrison's other significant associations, such as his chairmanship of the Royal Commission on the National Health Service, is sparse, there is documentation of Merrison's connection with scientific bodies such as CERN, with papers covering his Presidency of the Council 1982-1985, and the Institute of Physics (President 1984-1986). There is extensive material relating to his Chairmanship of the Universities Superannuation Scheme as a member of the Management Committee, director and later Chairman. The section includes some coverage of Merrison's support for local causes such as the Avon Riding Group for the Disabled. There is also documentation of his post-retirement work as a director of Lloyd's Bank and the Western Provident Association.
Section F, Correspondence, is slight. It dates from 1969 to 1988 and chiefly relates to Merrison's official engagements and responsibilities as Vice-Chancellor, chairman of the Advisory Board of the Research Councils, chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, and other offices and posts. There are also sequences of postcards and other informal greetings, invitations to functions and occasions including funeral and memorial services, and references and recommendations.
There is also an index of correspondents.