Papers and correspondence of Richard Rado, 1906-1989

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This large collection includes important biographical material and full records of Rado's mathematical research and teaching.

Biographical material includes extensive correspondence from Rado's student days in Germany, 1925-1927, and from his first years as a Jewish refugee in England, principally 1933-1936 when he was based at Cambridge University. Research records include the student notebooks used by Rado for lecture notes, 1927-1933, and the mathematical notebooks or diaries that he kept throughout his career, 1928-1983. The student notebooks include notes on the lecture courses of mathematicians E. Schmidt and I. Schur, the physicists M. Born, M. Planck and E. Schrdinger, and the psychologist W. Khler. There are extensive records of Rado's mathematical publications including collaborative papers with P. Erds, his lectures both university teaching and invitation and public lectures, and visits and conferences including the British Mathematical Colloquia that he attended regularly from 1950 and the Visiting Professorship at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, 1972-1973. A number of Rado's major professional affiliations are also documented including the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, the London Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association. There is an alphabetical sequence of Rado's principal mathematical correspondents including G.A. Dirac, 1951-1985, P. Erds, 1934-1987, E.C. Milner, 1957-1985, and L. Mirsky, 1948-1983, and also a chronological sequence of shorter correspondence, 1948-1986.

Administrative / Biographical History

Rado was born in Berlin on 28 April 1906 and was educated at the universities of Berlin and Gttingen, taking his Ph.D degree at Berlin in 1933 for a thesis entitled 'Studien zur Kombinatorik'. working under I. Schur. He was also influenced by E. Schmidt during this period. He married Luise Zadek in March 1933 and, as a consequence of Hitler's accession to power in Germany, the Rados, being Jewish, moved to England. Rado obtained a scholarship through the recommendation of F.A. Lindemann (later Lord Cherwell) to study at Cambridge University. He entered Fitzwilliam House (later College) in 1933 and studied for a Ph.D. under G.H. Hardy (awarded 1935 for his thesis on 'Linear Transformations of Sequences'). He stayed on at Cambridge with a temporary Lecturership until 1936. During this period, 1933-1936, Rado made contact with a number of influential resident mathematicians, who included in addition to Hardy, J.E. Littlewood, P. Hall and A.S. Besicovitch, and with fellow refugees such as B.H. Neumann and Hans Heilbronn. In 1934 he met for the first time the Hungarian mathematician P. Erds with whom he was to have many productive collaborations over five decades. Rado was subsequently Assistant Lecturer and Lecturer in Mathematics, University of Sheffield, 1936-1947, Reader in Mathematics, King's College London, 1947-1954, and Professor of Pure Mathematics, University of Reading, 1954-1971. He was Visiting Professor at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, 1971-1972.

Rado's mathematical research was particularly distinguished for his pioneering work in many aspects of combinatorics including abstract independent structures, transversal theory and extensions of Ramsey's theorem (the partition calculus).

In recognition of his distinction in mathematical research Rado was awarded the senior Berwick Prize of the London Mathematical Society in 1972 and was elected FRS in 1978. He died on 23 December 1989.

See C.A. Rogers, 'Richard Rado', Biographical Memoirs of the Royal Society, 37 (1989), 413-426.


By section as follows: Biographical, Notebooks, Reading University, Publications, Lectures, Societies and organisations, Visits and conferences, Correspondence, References and recommendations. Index of correspondents.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to all researchers. No reader's ticket is required but an appointment is necessary. Check for contact details and opening hours.

Other Finding Aids

Printed catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Richard Rado (1906-1989), NCUACS catalogue no. 50/6/94, 120 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath.

Custodial History

Received for cataloguing in June 1991 and August 1992 by the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists from Mr Peter Alan Rado, son. Deposited in Reading University Library in 1994.