Papers and correspondence of Kenneth Manley Smith, 1892-1981

Scope and Content

The papers offer only a partial picture of Smith's career. Little biographical material and little scientific correspondence survive. There is quite a useful record of notebooks, research reports, plans and annual schemes of work at different dates. Smith wrote many books, several of which became standard textbooks regularly reprinted or updated for new editions. There are samples (only) of this activity, including the continuing work of his seventies and eighties and also his own scrapbook of reviews. There is a sequence of articles and reviews additional to the technical papers listed in the official bibliography. This illustrates Smith's extensive writing for the more general readership of the farming and gardening communities interested in new discoveries in the virus field.

Administrative / Biographical History

Smith was born in Helensburgh near Glasgow and educated at Dulwich College and the Royal College of Science (Imperial College), London where he took his first degree and did graduate research. After a period at Manchester University, 1920-1927, he moved to Cambridge to work at the Potato Virus Station under R.N. Salaman, whom he succeeded as Director in 1939. He remained Director until his retirement in 1959 when, after various changes, the 'Station' had become the Virus Research Unit. In retirement he continued in active research, in the USA from 1962 to 1969, when he returned to Cambridge and concentrated on new and revised publications. Smith had an immense impact in the establishment of virology, by pioneering the research of both plant and insect viruses, as well as by his prolific writing. He was elected FRS in 1938 (Leeuwenhoek Lecture 1953).


By section as follows: Biographical and personal, Research notes and notebooks, Publications, Lectures and broadcasts, Correspondence. Index of correspondents.

Access Information

On application to the Librarian, Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology, preferably by letter or email (

Other Finding Aids

Printed catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Kenneth Manley Smith (1892-1981) by J. Alton and J. Latham-Jackson, CSAC catalogue no. 91/2/83, 28 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath.

Custodial History

Received for cataloguing in 1982 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre from Mr M.T. Smith,son via Institute of Virology, Oxford. Deposited in the Kenneth Smith Library, Institute of Virologyand Environmental Microbiology, Oxford in 1983.

The Institute of Virology is now the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Related Material

The Institute Library holds copies of most of Smith's books, including translations.