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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
KING'S COLLEGE LONDON: Maxwell Society Records
Level of description
Sub-fonds of King's College London Archives
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
2 boxes


Name of creator(s)

King's College London Maxwell Society

Administrative / Biographical history

The Maxwell Society was founded around 1935 by Sir Edward Victor Appleton, Wheatstone Professor of Physics at the University of London, 1924-1936, and was named in honour of the pioneering physicist, James Clerk Maxwell, Professor of Natural Philosophy at King's College London, between 1860 and 1865. It was established to promote knowledge of physics among students of King's. Events included lectures delivered by staff at King's or by distinguished guest speakers on a wide variety of subjects including nuclear physics, ultrasonics, radiobiology, quantum dynamics and aspects of applied science including the development of the computer and television. Members also undertook study visits to research laboratories and technical and manufacturing facilities, and organised other, more occasional, events and social activities. The Society is still very active in arranging talks and other events.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

King's College Maxwell Society.

Content & structure

Scope and content

The records of the Maxwell Society at King's College London consist of minutes, correspondence, programmes and signature books, 1939-1970. These notably include the manuscript minutes of the Maxwell Society, 1947-1950, mostly summarising the title and content of individual Society lectures on subjects ranging from the development of the calculating machine, to 'reasoning automata' or the early theory of intelligent computers, and to the possibility of interplanetary travel, a talk given by Arthur Charles Clarke, the best-selling science author, an alumnus of King's, who was then Chairman of the British Interplanetary Society. The minutes notably cover the period of the Secretaryship of Peter Ware Higgs, a leading authority on the behaviour of elementary particles. Correspondence, mainly comprising lecture invitations and organisation and other more minor Society business, 1939-1970; accounts, 1939-1940; Secretary's annual reports, 1939-1946, 1952-1958; lecture attendance register, 1941-1948; programmes including bulletins, 1951-1964, relating to Physics Department visits to Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park, the United Kingdom universities' staff and students residential studies venue established after World War Two; presentation copy of Cyril Domb ed., Clerk Maxwell and modern science (London, 1963).

System of arrangement

The collection is arranged into the main series of papers as described above in the Scope and Content section.

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Director of Archive Services.

Language/scripts of material


Allied materials

Existence and location of originals

King's College London College Archives

Related units of description

King's College London Archives: Papers of James Clerk Maxwell (Ref: KCLCA K/PP 71); papers relating to the James Clerk Maxwell Foundation (Ref: KCLCA K/ PP 45).

Description control

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Geoff Browell.

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

Date(s) of descriptions

August 2001

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  • Associations
  • Communications media
  • Higher education institutions
  • Higher science education
  • Information sciences
  • Learned societies
  • Lectures (teaching method)
  • Organizations
  • Periodicals
  • Physics education
  • Publications
  • Science education
  • Teaching methods
  • Universities
  • Yearbooks

Personal names

  • Clarke, Arthur Charles, b 1917, Writer
  • Higgs, Peter Ware, b 1929, Professor of Theoretical Physics
  • Maxwell, James Clerk Maxwell, 1831-1879, Physicist

Corporate names

  • Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park
  • King's College London College Archives
  • King's College London, Maxwell Society

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