Papers of Dr. James Clark McKerrow (1887-1965)

Scope and Content

The papers of Dr. James Clark McKerrow include: offprints of his lectures A attack on Aristotle given to the Aristotelian Society, London, in 1934; correspondence, cuttings, essay notes; a diary for 1960; and, around 250 notebooks.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Clark McKerrow was born in 1887. He studied at Edinburgh University and was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Medicine in 1912. During the First World War he served in the Territorial Army but on recovery after a wounding he joined the family medical practice in Workington, Cumberland. However, unsuited to general practice, McKerrow turned to broader study and thereafter spent much of his adult life writing and studying in the British Museum Reading Room. Living extremely frugally throughout his life and cutting a somewhat eccentric figure, for example using pieces of string instead of belts and buttons, he filled some 500 notebooks with his ideas on philosophy and psychology, wealth and its moral and ethical aspects, the religious experience, and on evolutionary studies, particularly the evolution of the Mind. From 1923, McKerrow wrote a number of scientific and philosophical studies some of which were published by Longmans Green, including The appearance of mind (1923), Aberrations of life (1923), Economics for Nicodemus (1927), An introduction to pneumatology (1932), and, Evolution without natural selection (1937). Dr. James Clark McKerrow received treatment for a cancer condition in 1964 and died in 1965.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

Edinburgh University Library received around half of McKerrow's notebooks from Rev. J.L.R. Crawley of Tarbert, Argyll, in 1994. Accession no. E94.38.


The biographical history was compiled using: (1) Biographical material contained in the collection.

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.