Papers and Medals of Professor Arthur Holmes (1890-1965)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of: a ledger used as a commonplace book; a number of medals from the period 1937 to 1964 and including those of the Geological Society of London, and medals from Belgium, France, Finland and the Netherlands; a number of geological off-prints; and, lecture notes taken 1943-1945.

Administrative / Biographical History

Arthur Holmes was born in Hebburn-on-Tyne on 14 January 1890. He studied at Imperial College of Science and Technology, London. Holmes explored in Mozambique, 1911-1912 and then became a Demonstrator at Imperial College from 1912 to 1921. He became the Chief Geologist for the Yomah Oil Company, Burma (now Myanmar), 1921 to 1924, and then in 1924 he was appointed Professor of Geology at Durham University. In 1943, Holmes became Professor of Geology at Edinburgh University where he remained until 1956. His publications include The age of the Earth (1913), The nomenclature of petrology (1920), Petrographic methods and calculations (1921), Petrology of the Bufumbira volcanoes (1937), and Principles of physical geology (1944). Professor Arthur Holmes died in Putney on 20 September 1965.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Acquisition Information

Commonplace book, acquired from Department of Geology, June 1987, Accession no. E87.74. Medals, acquired from Department of Geology, via the University Secretary, July 1987, Accession no. E88.13. Off-prints, acquired February 1998, Accession no. E98.09. Lecture notes, acquired February 1998, Accession no. E98.10.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Who's who 1962. 114th edition. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1962.

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.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

Essay on kimbolite by Donald McIntyre, Edinburgh University, 1945, with notes by Holmes, at E.98.11.

Archives Hub contains a description of the University of Durham Department of Geology Lantern Slide Collection, at the University of Durham, built up by successive members of staff, including Professor Arthur Holmes.

Corporate Names