Papers and correspondence of William Joscelyn Arkell, 1904-1958

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The lapse of time since Arkell's death, and the circumstances of his career, mean that the surviving papers and correspondence do not conform to those of many professional scientists. The collection is strongly weighted to his lifework of research and publication, while his relative independence of the formal academic system results in only minor involvements in teaching and departmental routine. Although he was a member of learned societies and is known that he served on their, and other, committees, no material of this nature survives.

Administrative / Biographical History

Arkell was born on 9 June 1904, at Highworth, Wiltshire, into the well-known family of brewers operating at Kingsdown, Swindon. For the greater part of his life the family business ensured him independent means and left him free to pursue his own interests. He was educated at Wellington College and New College Oxford. He took First Class Honours in geology in 1925 and was awarded the Burdett-Coutts Scholarship for work on the Corallian beds for which he was awarded his D.Phil. in 1927 and which became the subject of his earliest publications in 1926 and 1927 and of his first major monograph published in parts by the Palaeontographical Society 1929-1937. Arkell held a College Lecturership and later a Senior Research Fellowship at New College, these being non-stipendiary or honorific posts which carried no salary and imposed no teaching or administrative requirements, and therefore he was able to devote almost all his time to research. Apart from winter seasons 1926-1930 spent with K.S. Sandford in Egypt in a survey of Palaeolithic man along the Nile Valley, Arkell devoted his research to the Jurassic, achieving important synoptic works which consolidated his international reputation, and also shorter papers on English stratigraphy and local history, notably of the Cotswolds, Dorset and Oxford areas.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to bona fide scholars upon written application to the Director of the Museum.

Other Finding Aids

Printed Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of William Joscelyn Arkell, NCUACS catalogue no. 102/1/02, 156 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath