Papers relating to the Jodrell Bank Observatory, Jodrell Bank, Cheshire.
The collection is a hybrid, consisting primarily of the operational and administrative records of the Observatory, records of the University of Manchester (sub) department of radio-astronomy, and the personal papers of Sir Bernard Lovell, Professor of Radio Astronomy and Director of Jodrell Bank, 1951-1980. The distinctions between these component parts are not always easily identifiable.
The archive is extensive and comprises files of correspondence, telexes, papers relating to the funding, construction and operation of the telescope, research programmes and projects, the use of computing at the Observatory, accounting records, scientific reports, telescope log-books, research notebooks and copies of papers and articles published by Lovell and other JBO staff. There is correspondence with international organizations, national funding bodies and research institutes, and individual scientists in Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union.
Probably the most significant part of the archive for the Observatory's research work and radio-astronomy in general are correspondence files, arranged in nine series (JBA/CS1-9), comprising several hundred files. Most of the correspondence files relate to Lovell's research work and his papers as Director (JBA/CS6 comprises Lovell's more personal files); series JBA/CS8 and CS9 consist of the correspondence files of Lovell's colleague Robert Hanbury Brown, professor of radio-astronomy at the University of Manchester 1960-1963. Correspondence and papers of other significant figures at Jodrell Bank, namely J. G. Davies (JBA/DAV), H P Palmer (JBA/PAL), Conrad Slater (JBA/SLA) and Francis Graham Smith (JBA/SMI) are filed in separate series.
The CS files also include much information on early research activities at Jodrell Bank, and include correspondence between Lovell and leading physicists and astronomers including: Edward Appleton, Patrick Blackett, Bart Bok, Thomas Cowling, Philip Dee, M. A. Ellison, Erwin Findlay-Freundlich, Nicolai Herlofson, J.S. Hey, Cuno Hoffmeister, Vladimir Kourganoff, Bertil Lindblad, Gordon Little, Rudolph Minkowski, Jan Oort, Ernst Opik, J. L. Pawsey, J. P. M. Prentice, J. A. Ratcliffe, Svein Rosseland, Martin Ryle, Dudley Saward, Harlow Shapley, Sydney van den Bergh, and Frederick Whipple (correspondence with Blackett and Ryle being particularly extensive).
There is extensive information on the general running of the Observatory, including personnel, buildings, maintenance, allocation of frequencies, the concourse centre and the Jodrell Bank Tree Society (arboretum). There is also much relations with the University of Manchester, government departments and agencies (DSIR, Science Research Council), equipment suppliers and contractors (particularly Husband & Co.), private funding bodies, the media, and with the local community. Also covered are the Mark II and Mark III telescopes, and the various JBO outstations. There are numerous files on scientific and astronomical agencies with which the Observatory and its staff were associated: Royal Astronomical Society, International Astronomical Union, International Union for Radio Science (URSI), CSIRO, the Solvay Congress, British Association, NASA plus specific projects and activities such as Halley Bay, meteor experiments, tracking of space probes and satellites (including the Sputniks), Venus Experiment, Project West Ford, NASA's STL project, Echo II, scintillations, and research on pulsars and quasars. Lovell's correspondence also includes a large number of letters forms members of the general public concerning astronomical phenomena, including sightings of alleged unidentified flying objects (Lovell often categorised these letters as 'odd' or 'very odd').
The series on the Aeronautical Research Council (JBA/ARC), British Space Development Company (JBA/BSD), Committee on Space Research (JBA/COS), International Geophysical Year (JBA/IGY), Meetings and Records (2 series) and Royal Society document the involvement of Jodrell Bank staff, primarily Lovell, with external bodies, some relating to specific projects. JBA/MKV contains extensive information on the aborted MKV telescope project. JBA/PUB consist of publications of Jodrell Bank staff, while JBA/SYM deals with a range of academic symposia and conferences held at the Observatory. JBA/COM is a district series which deals with computing issues at the Observatory (Jodrell Bank was a pioneer in the use of computing in astronomy), and JBA/REC is a miscellaneous series of records produced by the Observatory, including meteorological records.
The archive includes Lovell's papers which are directly related to his work as Director of the Radio-Telescope, as well as papers which relate to his other academic and outside interests. In the latter category are the series JBA/PRE which deal with his student and early career papers, and the papers relating to his membership of the Worshipful College of Musicians (JBA/WCM). The archives also include Lovell's (appointment) diaries (JBA/DIA) and papers relating to his lectures (JBA/LEC)
The archive constitutes an essential source for the history of radio astronomy and science in general, particularly in post-war Britain. It includes essential information about international co-operation in astronomy, the development of diverse research programmes in British radio-astronomy, the funding and organization of scientific research and higher education, the presentation of the Jodrell Bank telescope as a iconic development in post-war British science among many other topics.