Papers of Professor Robert Grant, 1814-1892, Regius Professor of Practical Astronomy, University of Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Personal correspondence, 1850-1889;
  • Publications, 1862-1889;
  • Obituaries, 1892-1893.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Grant was born on 17 June 1814 in Grantown-on-Spey, Scotland. His father, Robert, was a tradesman. He attended Chemistry, Greek and Latin classes at King's College, Aberdeen in session 1839-1840. He then went to London to work as a bookkeeper in his brother's counting house. He held this position for four years, however, he continued to study in his spare time with the intention of eventually publishing a book on the history of astronomy. In 1854 he went to Paris and spent two years here studying and teaching astronomy. He continued his studies when he returned to London.

In 1850 he became a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. His History of Physical Astronomy from the Earliest Ages to the Middle of the Nineteenth Centurywas published two years later and Grant became a well-respected figure in the world of astronomical research. He was appointed editor of the Society's publications and a member of the Council soon after. In 1855 King's College, Aberdeen, granted him the honorary degree of MA, while in 1865 the recently established University of Aberdeen awarded him an LLD.

He became Regius Professor of Practical Astronomy at the University of Glasgow in December 1859 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1865. He also became Director of the Observatory at the University. While Professor of Astronomy he published A Glasgow Catalogue Of Stars in 1883 and a revised edition in 1892 . He was also behind a project for controlling the public clocks in Glasgow by a direct current of electricity from the University Observatory, so they could be regulated by true Greenwich time. He died in Grantown-on-Spey on 24 October 1892.


Arranged chronologically within record series

Access Information


Acquisition Information

The documents were received prior to formal recording of accessions in 1979. It is likely that they were transferred from the Astronomy Department between 1955 and 1979.

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

None which affect the use of this material

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 0248 procedures

Custodial History

The collection has been formed from items taken out of the Glasgow University Archives (GUA) Inventory, a collection of records, accumulated by the University Archives between 1955 and 1975, in order to create a collection specific to Professor Robert Grant.


None expected

Related Material

  • GB 112, RAS, letters to Royal Astronomical Society, 1855-1892

Location of Originals

This material is original


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999and National Council on Archives, Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Fonds level description compiled by Andrew MacGregor, Archives Assistant, 5 June 2000. Lower level description compiled by members of Glasgow University Archive Service staff.

Geographical Names