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Records relating to the early work of Queen Mary’s Electrical Engineering and Aeronautical Engineering departments have recently been catalogued. The records form part of the papers of John Turner MacGregor-Morris. MacGregor-Morris (1872-1959) was Professor of Electrical Engineering at East London College, later Queen Mary College.

27 April 2018

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Menu from an Engineering Society Dinner, 1914

The papers contain correspondence between MacGregor-Morris and his students, which gives a sense of the interest the Professor took in their studies, and the respect the students felt for him. Much of the correspondence concerns the students’ research and keeping MacGregor-Morris updated with what they did after leaving Queen Mary. There are also examples of the Professor helping students to secure funding for their studies.

The papers are a useful source of information on how the Electrical Engineering department was run, covering subjects such as finances, staffing and the content of lectures. There are also research notes on MacGregor-Morris’s specialist subject of cathode ray oscillography, and drawings of equipment to be included in the new high voltage laboratory, which was noted to be unique in the country on its opening in 1936.

Outside of the Electrical Engineering department, MacGregor-Morris was very involved in recreational activities in the college. The papers contain various items of memorabilia from college concerts, dinners and sporting events such as programmes, menus and sporting fixtures. There is also valuable information surrounding the establishment of the Students’ Union Society at East London College in 1908. MacGregor-Morris clearly understood the importance of these activities to students’ overall college experience, writing in one letter to a student that there was more to college life than simply undertaking research: “we must avoid at all costs the production of magnificent walking dictionaries”.

The papers also include records of the Aeronautical Engineering department, and the work of Albert Peter Thurston, Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Queen Mary College and the first person to receive a Doctor of Science in Aeronautics in Great Britain. There are a number of published talks and articles by or about Thurston, as well as research notes attributed to him from numerous tests of different types of aircraft undertaken during the First World War.

To find out more about this collection you can search or browse the archives catalogue. If you have any questions or to arrange a visit to the archives please email us.



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