Bryan Higman Papers

Scope and Content

Papers of the computer scientist Brian Higman. The collection includes a small amount of biographical material. HIG/B consists of correspondence, some of which relates to EL Draco project, Algol Translator, and Higman's work at the Institute for Computer Science and at Lancaster. HIG/C comprises an extensive range of Higman's notebooks and reports including his wartime notebooks relating to armaments and ballistics, his work at GEC, reports presented to NATO's AGARD Avionics Panel, as well as his later academic projects (many of the reports are authored by others). HIG/D comprises a small number of publications of Higman,as well as those of others.

Administrative / Biographical History

After working in the British computing industry, Bryan Higman became an academic computer scientist at the University of London, followed by Lancaster University.

Professor Higman participated in the war effort by instructing young RAE cadets on ballistics. In 1953, he joined GEC, and worked at Stanmore, Middlesex on problems of control theory associated with the guidance system of a missile called RED DEAN (analogue computers). Then, he was directed to investigate digital computers at RRE Malvern. He was also involved in the GEC programme EL DRACO (parallEL Drum And Cores). Later on, Higman specialised in high-level programming languages including Algol.

Between 1967 and 1970, he was reader in computer science at the Institute for Computer Science of London University. Then he moved to Lancaster University, where he was based until his retirement in 1982. He is the author of manuals on computing and computing languages including: Applied Group-Theoretic and Matrix Methods, (Clarendon, 1955), Comparative Study of Programming Languages, (Elsevier, 1967), and Foundation Course in Computer Science, (MacDonald 1975).


  • NAHC/HIG/A - Historical and Biographical material
  • NAHC/HIG/B - Correspondence
  • NAHC/HIG/C - Working Papers and Reports
  • NAHC/HIG/D - Publications

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

His collection was acquired following the initiative of Martin Campbell-Kelly, who in 1987 alerted Geoff Tweedale about Higman's work. It is believed it was transferred to the NAHC at some time after this.