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The Papers of Alan Agar

Reference Code: GBR/0014/AGAR

Scope and Contents

This collection comprises papers concerned with the preparation of Agar’s book "The History of European Commercial Electron Microscopes"; historical micrographs recorded on early instruments; and catalogues/reprints of information on electron microscopes.


  • Creation: 1936 - 1999

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Alan Wawn Agar was born at Hessle in East Yorkshire in 1920. He was educated at Boulevard Secondary School, Hull and University of London where he read Physics. In 1948 he married Margaret Worthington and they had three daughters.

He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer reserve as a Technical (Signals) Officer in 1941 and served in North Africa and Italy from January 1943 to May 1946. By the time of demobilisation he had risen to the rank of Squadron Leader. He worked as a graduate apprentice at Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Company from 1946 and was promoted to Physicist for the Research Department in 1948. From 1954-1956 he was a Physicist at the Fundamental Research Laboratory, AEI Aldermaston. In 1956 he became Head of Laboratory at Aeon Laboratories. From 1961-1972 he worked with the Scientific Apparatus Department (Electron microscopes), Associated Electrical Industries, where he held the positions of Consultant (1961), Engineer-in-charge (1963) and Product Manager (1966). Posted to the USA in 1969, he provided technical backup to Agents and then assisted in setting up a company in the USA. He set up Agar Aids for Electron Microscopy with his wife in 1972. Due to expansion the company moved to Stansted, Essex in 1972.

Agar was elected to the Committee of the Electron Microscope Group of the Institute of Physics in 1953 and shortly afterwards to the Council of the Royal Microscopial Society. He was later elected as a Vice-President of the Royal Microscopial Society. He was an Associate (1953) and a Fellow (1960) of the Institute of Physics and an Associate Member (1953) then a Fellow (1962) of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. He became Secretary and then Chairman of the Electron Microscope Group and organised the Exeter Conference on Electron Microscopes in 1959 for the EM Group of the IOP.

Agar’s publications include some 43 short publications; a chapter on electron microscope operation in "Techniques in Electron Microscopy", Ed. Kay (1961); major author of Volume 2 in the "Practical Methods in Electron Microscopy" series, on "The Operation of the Electron Microscope", edited by Glauert; a chapter in "The Growth of Electron Microscopy", edited by T. Mulvey, which appeared in "Imaging and Electron Physics", Volume 96 (1996).


13 archive box(es) : paper

Language of Materials



The papers have been arranged into 5 series as detailed in the catalogue. When deposited at Churchill Archives Centre, the papers had been organised into files by Agar so the original file titles have been preserved.

Other Finding Aids

The collection has been catalogued and copies of the catalogue are available at the National Register of Archives and in Churchill Archives Centre's Reading Room.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was deposited at Churchill Archives Centre in 1998 by Alan Agar.


This catalogue was compiled by Ruth Hammond in March 2001 and updated by Natalie Adams in May 2002. Biographical information about Alan Agar was obtained from a curriculum vitae supplied by Alan Agar.


Agar, Alan Wawn, 1920-, physicist

2002-05-13 11:56:07+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087