The Papers of William Jocelyn Arkell

Scope and Content

The collection comprises notes relating to specimens, annotated published papers, and correspondence 1952-1954. The correspondence file includes letters with Professor Hans Stille; Hans Freobold; E.T Tozer including a preliminary report on Jurassic fossils collected on Prince Patrick Island, 1954-1955; and a letter from Duncan Carse, 1953 with a preliminary report of the South Georgia Survey, 1951/2.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Joscelyn Arkell was born at Highworth, Wiltshire in June 1904. He gained a first-class degree in Geology at New College, Oxford in 1925.

In 1929 he was appointed a Lecturer at New College and in 1933 he was elected a Senior Research Fellow. In the same year he published the Jurassic System in Great Britain. He was the the authority on Jurassic stratigraphy and its worldwide correlation and Mesozoic palaeontology, especially Mollusca.

During World War II Arkell worked in the Ministry of Transport but suffered severe ill health. In 1947 he was appointed a Senior Research Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1956 he suffered a stroke and a second stroke resulted in his death on 18 April 1958.


The collection is still to be arranged and catalogued.

Access Information

The papers are open for consultation by researchers using Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. However, as the papers have not been appraised, there may be some closures.

The Geological Conservation Unit [Brighton Building] is open from Monday to Friday, 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00. A prior appointment made at least two weeks in advance, and two forms of identification are required.

Please contact the Museum to ask about the collection or to make an appointment.

Other Finding Aids

The DDF Archive Inventory spreadsheet is available which contains basic box listing entries for the legacy records of the Sedgwick Museum and Department of Earth Sciences.

Please ask staff for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies, photographs, and print-outs from scanned images may be provided. Charges may apply. Readers may also use their own digital cameras subject to copyright legislation and in-house rules.

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Sedgwick Museum Staff.

Please cite as Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, The Papers of William Jocelyn Arkell, ARKL.

Appraisal Information

The collection is still to be appraised.

Custodial History

1 box was identified as being records created or retained by Arkell. This was repackaged into 2 conservation grade boxes during the DDF project (2010-2011)

Correspondence was located in the collection (DDF Inventory Box number 393) which discussed the transfer of some material (specimens and library books) from Arkells office in the deparment, after his death in 1958.

The records had been transferred from the Sedgwick Museum [Downing Street, Cambridge] to the Geological Conservation Unit [Madingley Road] between 1991-2009.


No more records are currently expected.

Related Material

There are also correspondence files in the Sedgwick Museum Archive collection (DDF Inventory box 393) between Arkell, A.G Brighton and others, mostly in relation to his estate, specimens and papers.

Oxford University: Museum of Natural History has the correspondence, papers, notebooks and lecture notes of Arkell [NCUAC 102/1/02]. There are also papers at the British Geological Survey (BGS); and Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.

Location of Originals

There are also correspondence files in the collection (DDF Inventory box 393) between Arkell, A.G Brighton and others, mostly in relation to his estate, specimens and papers.