London Mathematical Society Archive

Scope and Content

Archives of the London Mathematical Society, 1853-1994, the bulk comprising c500 letters to Thomas Archer Hirst, 1853-1892, mainly in his capacity as a member of the LMS, including a letter inviting him to the first meeting of the Society, and also reflecting his travels in Europe, including letters from prominent European mathematicians. The letters include several from Henry M Bompas, 1865, 1874-1879; Arthur Cayley, 1858-1891 and undated; Michel Chasles, 1858-1871 and undated; Luigi Cremona, 1864-1892 and undated; Augustus De Morgan, 1861-1869; Georges-Henri Halphen, 1875-1879; Amde Mannheim, 1866-1891; Julius Plcker, 1866-1868; William Roberts, 1859-1865 and undated; George Salmon, 1858-1878; [Hermann Csar Hannibal?] Schubert, 1877-1884; Henry John Stephen Smith, 1865-1876 and undated; William Spottiswoode, 1862, 1865, 1883; Cyparissos Stephanos, 1877-1887; Rudolf Sturm, 1874-1892; James Joseph Sylvester, 1859-1888 and undated; Barnaba Tortolini, 1858-1863; Richard Townsend, 1865-1878; John Van Voorst, 1864-1867; and there are a few letters from Hirst himself. The archive also includes a bound notebook containing a manuscript catalogue of the LMS library by R A Sampson, 1891-1893; miscellaneous administrative correspondence and papers, 1964-1975; membership lists, 1966-1972; binder of papers of H T J Norton on mathematics, with correspondence, largely to E H Neville, regarding their disposition in the LMS archive in c1938, and also including bibliographical material on elliptic functions, apparently compiled by Neville [1930s-1950s]; miscellaneous letters and papers on research, 1986, 1992-1994.

Administrative / Biographical History

The London Mathematical Society (LMS) was founded as the University College Mathematical Society in 1865, for the promotion and extension of mathematical knowledge. It was granted a royal charter in 1965. In spite of its name, its reach extends beyond London as a national learned society for mathematics. Members include c1,500 academic mathematicians in the UK and c1,000 members overseas. Its affairs are managed by an elected Council and Officers. It undertakes various publications, holds regular meetings, conferences and symposia, and offers financial support to various mathematical activities.

Thomas Archer Hirst: born at Heckmondwike, Yorkshire, 1830; entered the West Riding proprietary school, Wakefield, 1840; articled to a Halifax land agent and surveyor, 1846; went to Marburg to study mathematics, physics and chemistry, 1849; PhD; spent a short time at Gttingen; studied in Berlin; lecturer in mathematics and natural philosophy at Queenwood College, Hampshire, 1853-1856; lived in Paris, 1857-1858; lived in Rome, 1858-1859; appointed mathematical master at University College School, 1860; Fellow of the Royal Society, 1861; one of the founders of the LMS, 1865; a member of its Council; Professor of Physics, University College London, 1865; succeeded Augustus De Morgan as Professor of Pure Mathematics, 1866; Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1866; general secretary of the British Association, 1866-1870; resigned his chair to become assistant registrar in the University of London, 1870; President of the newly-founded Association for the Improvement of Geometrical Teaching, 1871-1878; President of the LMS, 1872-1874; director of naval studies at the newly-founded Royal Naval College, Greenwich, 1873-1883; Fellow of the University of London, 1882; awarded a royal medal by the Royal Society, 1883; retired, 1883; honorary member of the Cambridge Philosophical Society and of several foreign scientific institutions; author of papers on mathematical physics and, from 1861, pure geometry; his research included work on the correlation of planes and the correlation of space of three dimensions; died in London, 1892. Publications: papers in the LMS 'Proceedings' and the Royal Society's 'Philosophical Transactions'; preface to Richard P Wright's 'Elements of Plane Geometry' (London, 1868); 'On the Complexes generated by two Correlative Planes' in collected mathematical papers 'In Memoriam D Chelini', ed Luigi Cremona (Milan, 1881); edited 'The Mechanical Theory of Heat' (London, 1867), translated from Rudolf Julius Emmanuel Clausius's German.


The letters to Hirst are filed by author.

Access Information

Certain restrictions apply

The Hirst letters are currently inaccessible due to digitisation. Membership lists from 1961 onwards may not be viewed without the prior written permission of the President of the Society.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the LMS.

Other Finding Aids

A basic catalogue is available on the online catalogue. A card index to the Hirst letters is also available. Please contact Special Collections for further information

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers should seek permission for photocopying from the President or Librarian of the LMS.

Related Material

University College London Special Collections holds two letters from Thomas Archer Hirst concerning his appointment at University College London and his resignation, 1865, 1870, and a letter of the LMS concerning setting up the Graves Library, 1870 (Ref: COLLEGE CORRESPONDENCE), and a scrapbook of the Spitalfields Mathematical Society (Ref: MS ADD 75). The LMS Library is housed in University College London Library. Correspondence and papers of Thomas Archer Hirst are held at the British Library, Manuscript Collections; Royal Institution of Great Britain; Royal Astronomical Society Library.

Further information about the Society's archive collections held onsite at the LMS can be found at