Dr Alexander Scott

Scope and Content

Letters to Dr William J Russell FRS 1851-1896; letters to Dr Alexander Scott 1885-1935; miscellaneous letters c.1909-1911; photogravures of prominent scientists of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dr Alexander Scott, latterly Director of Scientific Research at the British Museum, was educated at Selkirk Academy and Edinburgh University where be graduated in Experimental Philosophy in 1875. After moving to Cambridge as assistant to the Jacksonian Professor in 1875, he graduated BA Honours in Natural Science in 1879 and MA in 1882, and gained his doctorate in 1884. From 1896 to 1911 he was Superintendent of the Davy-Faraday Research Laboratory of the Royal Institution. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1898.

After working in his own laboratory for some years he was appointed, in 1919, to "conduct an enquiry into the condition of objects at the British Museum". He retired from the post in 1938. He was very active in the Chemical Society most of his working life and between 1899 and 1924 held the posts of Honorary Secretary, Treasurer, Vice-President and President.

Dr Scott also made a great contribution to the problem of art and archaeology by discovering and publishing methods of treatment for exhumed material. In the winter of 1923-1924 he was consulting chemist at Luxor, in devising methods of preserving the objects from Tut-Ankh-Amun's tomb.


Records are arranged chronologically within series.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation subject to preservation requirements. Access must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation.

Acquisition Information

The exact date of the deposit is unknown. After Dr Scott's death, Dr H J Plenderleith, one of his executors, salvaged the file of letters and gave it to Professor Walsh of the University of Dundee c.1950.


Fonds level description compiled by Sarah Chubb, Archives Hub Project Archivist, October 2001.

Other Finding Aids

Descriptive list. Subject source lists and databases are also available.

Alternative Form Available

No known copies.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction is available subject to preservation requirements. Charges are made for this service, and copyright and other restrictions may apply.

Custodial History



None expected.

Related Material

Papers of Alexander Scott, 1851-1935 are held at the National Army Museum, Department of Archives Photographs Film and Sound