Turing: The Papers of Alan Mathison Turing
Scope and Contents
The papers contain published and unpublished writings by AMT, off-prints of articles by AMT and by other authors with annotations by AMT, his Fellowship Dissertation, and correspondence.
Most of the papers in Sections B, C, and D refer to AMT’s work from c. 1940 until his death in 1954. There are a few references in the correspondence to his work in the 1930s, but no remaining drafts or working papers. During the Second World War, AMT worked at the Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, from where several of the letters in Section D were written. AMT was awarded the OBE for his work on ‘Enigma’ and other codes at Bletchley. The material on morphogenesis, C/24-27 represents a substantial addition to the documentation of AMT’s work and thinking on this topic, left incomplete at his death. Section D contains photocopied letters and calculations exchanged by AMT and I. J. Good (D/6-10), and some original letters by AMT (D/11-14), most of them addressed to P. Hall. Section E contains video recordings, and typescript copies, of lectures given at the Turing Celebration Day held at the Lady Mitchell Hall, and afterwards in King’s College, Cambridge, on 1 Oct. 1997.
- 1917 - 2016
Biographical / Historical
Alan Mathison Turing was born on 23 June 1912, the son of Julius Mathison Turing, a civil servant in India, and (Ethel) Sara Turing, the daughter of Edward Waller Stoney, chief engineer of the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway. Alan’s early life was spent with his brother John, living with the Ward family at St Leonards-on-Sea (near Hastings); his parents visited from India when they could. Alan was educated at Hazelhurst School, then Sherborne School. He won an Open Scholarship in Mathematics to King’s College and matriculated in 1931.
He graduated in 1934 with distinction, and was awarded a Fellowship in 1935. This was followed by two years as a Visiting Fellow at Princeton; in 1936 the draft of his paper ‘On Computable Numbers’ was completed. Alan returned to King’s in 1938. When war broke out he joined the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, where he was part of the team deciphering the Enigma machine. He was awarded an OBE in 1946 for his work.
After the War, Alan worked first at the National Computing Laboratory and then at Manchester University on the development of the computer from his first ideas in the early 1930s for a ‘Turing machine’. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1951. In the early 1950s he was developing a theory of morphogenesis, a mathematical theory of organic growth. The work was left incomplete when he died, on 8 June 1954, at his house in Wilmslow, Cheshire.
The following publications contain, or are directly related to, work by AMT: A. M. Cohen and M. J. E. Mayhew: 'On the difference pi (x) - li x' (Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society, 3rd series, 43, 1968, pp.691-713). The paper is ‘based on ideas of A. M. Turing’. B.J. Copeland (ed.): 'The Essential Turing' (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2004) B.J. Copeland (ed.): 'Alan Turing's Automatic Computing Engine: The Master Codebreaker's Struggle to Build the Modern Computer' (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2005) Cora Diamond (ed.): 'Wittgenstein’s Lectures on the Foundations of Mathematics' (Cambridge, 1939 and The Harvester Press: Hassocks, Sussex, 1976). This contains AMT’s contributions to discussions. Andrew Hodges: 'Alan Turing: the Enigma' (Burnett Books Ltd.: London, 1983) Andrew Hodges: 'Turing: A Natural Philosopher' (The Great Philosophers Series, Phoenix: London, 1997) Sara Turing: 'Alan M. Turing' (Heffer: Cambridge, 1959).
6 archive box(es) (6 boxes) : paper
Language of Materials
The arrangement and references in this catalogue follow the system adopted in the first and second Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre catalogues.
A distinction has been made in the catalogue between drafts, notes or texts of published papers, or lectures and talks known to have been delivered by AMT (Section B), and the unpublished work left in various stages of completion at his death (Section C). Titles and descriptions in inverted commas are those which appear on the documents.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Provenance of minor accessions are listed at item level.
1960: K/1-K/7/20 In June 1960, Mrs Sara Turing (AMT’s mother and biographer) presented items relating to her son to King’s College, Cambridge. A list of this material was compiled by archivists in the College before the first Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre list in 1977. Some items (e.g. press cuttings and letters) appear more than once, in both original and typescript or photocopied form. A note has been made of any substantial overlap.
1960-77: A/1-13; B/1, 3-7; D/1-5 In 1975, the A. M. Turing Trust was established as an educational charity to further the ‘advancement and spread of education in the fields of computation, artificial intelligence and mathematical logic’. All the material A/1-13; B/1, 3-7; D/1-5 was assembled by this Trust. Originals of AMT/D/4 were given in 1996.
1960-1977: C/1-22 These unpublished manuscripts were assembled after AMT’s death by Dr. Robin Gandy, to whom they were left by AMT in his will (see A/5).
1977-84: A/14-33, B/9 Various small accessions were received; see individual reference numbers for details.
1984-96: A/35-43; B/10-30; D/14a These assorted papers relating to AMT were collected from a variety of sources. Some off-prints and articles were presented as gifts to the Library by the authors while other papers, which had been part of College administration, were later passed on to the Library. This material was not included in either of the two earlier sections of the catalogue of Turing Papers prepared by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre in 1977 and 1985.
1996: B/31-57; C/28; D/15 This additional material was presented to the Archive Centre in May 1996 by Professor Michael Yates, Robin Gandy’s executor. The material was previously in the possession of Robin Gandy who had been one of AMT’s executors.
1996-9: K/7/19, C/29, B/27a, B/29a, B/27b, C/30-31, C/32, D/16, D/17, E/1-2, E/3 Further small accessions from various sources. See individual reference numbers for more information.
2005: C/31A was given by Lee Gladwin of the United States National Archive and Records Administration. A/44-50, B/58, and K/7/21-42 were given by the Turing family.
2015 and 2023: D/18 acquired through the Export Licence Scheme with a publishing moratorium for 7 years; D/19 purchased at auction.
The catalogue completed in September 1999 combined five previous catalogues. The first list was created by King's College archivists, and was incorporated into the second catalogue, compiled in 1977 by Jeannine Alton and Harriot Weiskittel of the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre (CSCA 53/7/77). The third was compiled in 1985 by Jeannine Alton and Peter Harper of the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre (CSAC 104/1/85). The fourth and fifth were complete in August 1996 by archivists in the Archive Centre, King's College. This unified catalogue also lists recent accessions which have not been recorded in the previous catalogues. Each new catalogue was prompted by the donation of further Turing material from various individuals over time.
The National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists kindly granted permission to reproduce the text of the two catalogues (CSAC 53/7/77 and 104/1/85) compiled by their predecessor, the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre. Copyright in this new catalogue is held jointly by NCUACS and King’s College.
Professor Donald Michie, Mrs Jean Michie, and Dr. R.O. Gandy gave advice on the identification and description of several items in the CSAC catalogues, and their help is gratefully acknowledged. Dr. Andrew Hodges kindly gave permission to refer to, and quote from, his biography of AMT. Dr Jonathan Swinton provided valuable information about the morphogenesis papers.
Turing, Alan Mathison (1912-54), mathematician
- 2003-03-21 10:41:12+00:00
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Archive Centre, King's College, Cambridge Repository
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