Papers and correspondence of Sir Geoffrey Ingram Taylor, 1886-1975

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The surviving records are variable in content and time-span and reflect Taylor's research methods and the lack of formal obligations which meant that he had no office or secretarial help. The documents include a few notebooks, including that kept on the 1913 meteorological expedition on the Scotia, reports and articles (many unpublished) and a useful body of scientific correspondence some of which was especially assembled by Professor Batchelor. The personal material includes documents relating to a little known episode in 1911 when Taylor was obliged to spend several months in a sanatorium with a lung infection, and a considerable amount of information relating to the Taylor and Boole families. There are also numerous photographs which are a useful additional record of Taylor's family, career, travels and interests.

Administrative / Biographical History

Taylor was born in St John's Wood, London and was descended through his mother from George Boole. He was educated at University College School, London and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was elected to a Fellowship in 1910. He was Meteorologist to the Scotia expedition to the North Atlantic in 1913. During the First World War he was engaged in experimental aeronautics at the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough until 1917 when he left to become a meteorological adviser to the Royal Flying Corps. In 1919 he resumed his academic career at Cambridge and for most of his career he held research posts, notably the Yarrow Research Professorship of the Royal Society to which he was appointed in 1923. He was thus almost wholly absolved from routine teaching, administrative, departmental or institutional tasks, and free to pursue whatever research suggested itself, or was suggested to him. He had the help of a technician and a room in the Cavendish Laboratory, originally made available by Rutherford, who described Taylor as being 'paid provided that he does no work'. His Royal Society memorialist G.K. Batchelor summed up the research achievement as follows: 'he occupied a leading place in applied mathematics, in classical physics and in engineering science ... Taylor's work is of the greatest importance to the mechanics of fluids and solids and to their application in meteorology, oceanography, aeronautics, metal physics, mechanical engineering and chemical engineering.' ( Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 22, 565). Taylor's interest in sailing led to his invention of the CQR anchor. During the Second World War he advised government departments and the armed forces on a wide range of applied physics problems and worked at Los Alamos, New Mexico with the group making the first nuclear explosion, 1944-1945. Taylor was elected FRS in 1919 (Bakerian Lecture 1923, Royal Medal 1933, Copley Medal 1944). He was knighted in 1944 and appointed to the Order of Merit in 1969. See The Life and Legacy of G.I. Taylor by George Batchelor (Cambridge, 1996).


By section as follows: Biographical and personal, Notebooks, working notes and patents, Reports, articles and papers, Scientific correspondence, Photographs, film and tape. Index of correspondents.

Conditions Governing Access

By appointment only.

Other Finding Aids

Printed catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Sir Geoffrey Ingram Taylor (1886-1975) by J. Alton, H. Weiskittel and J. Latham-Jackson, CSAC catalogue no. 67/5/79, 99 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath

Separated Material

A model of the CQR anchor and papers relating to its design have been deposited with the National Maritime Museum, London.

Custodial History

Received for cataloguing in 1976-1977 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre from Professor G.K. Batchelor, Taylor's scientific executor, Royal Society memorialistand biographer. Placed in Trinity College Library in 1979.

A little additional material added by G.K. Batchelor, in 1994 and 1996.