Papers of Sir Samuel Curran

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Research papers; Lectures and published works; Papers relating to official visits by Principal and Lady Curran; Diary of Manhattan Project; Filmed interview; Papers relating to development of the Royal College and the University of Strathclyde; Biographical information

Administrative / Biographical History

Samuel Curran, internationally respected nuclear physicist and first Principal of the University of Strathclyde, was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, his mother's home town, but spent his childhood and youth in Wishaw, Lanarkshire. After schooling at Wishaw High School, Curran graduated with first class honours in mathematics and natural philosophy from Glasgow University and joined the University Physics Department as a PhD student in 1934. He researched the diffraction of beta rays of radium and modified and reconstructed Geiger counters. In 1937 Curran moved to St John's College, Cambridge to continue his studies, and worked alongside his fellow student and future wife, Joan Strothers in the Cavendish Laboratory. During World War II, they joined a small team developing the proximity fuse, which was highly effective in destroying enemy planes and V1 rockets, and radar installation. Curran was seconded in 1944 to the University of California in Berkeley to work on the separation of isotopes of uranium as part of the Manhattan Project (the development of the atomic bomb) and after a period on the staff of Glasgow University, he assisted with the development of a British hydrogen bomb at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston in the 1950s. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1953. In 1959 he was invited to become Principal of the Royal College of Science and Technology and to lead the College to University status. He served as Principal until his retirement in 1980. Curran was a scientific adviser to government and public bodies, and received many Honorary degrees. He was knighted in 1970.

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Note

Located in University Archives, McCance Building

Other Finding Aids

Typed list to item level. Many of the Curran papers are not listed

Archivist's Note

Archivist's note: Description prepared by Margaret Harrison, Web version by Graham S. Holton, Jordanhill LibraryRules or Conventions: Description based on Scottish Archive Network guidelines, based on ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000). and Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997)Date of descriptions: January 2009

Related Material

GB 249 OP/4/201-203, 206-208, 213, 217, 223, 235, 267Photographs of Sir Samuel Curran