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Catalogue of the correspondence of SIR BERNARD AUGUSTUS KEEN, F.R.S. (1890 - 1981)

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Reference CSAC 95.6.83
Covering dates 1931-1982
Held by London University, University College London (UCL) Manuscripts Room
Extent 6 files
Source of acquisition The material was received from Sir Charles Pereira, author of the Royal Society Memoir of Keen (Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 28, 1982). A copy of the Memoir, and of information from Sir Charles about the interest of the papers and about the location of other material, are included as Item 1.
Creators Keen, Sir, Bernard Augustus, 1890-1981, Knight, scientist and agricultural scientist
Related information Keen's autobiographical notes, published papers, and five volumes of diaries of overseas travels, are held at the Royal Society, London.
Keen's collection of old prints and advertisements for early steam-power agricultural equipment, currently in the care of Sir Charles Pereira FRS, will be deposited in the Library of the National Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Silsoe.
A little personal material remains in family hands.
Note Compiled by Jeannine Alton and Peter Harper
The work of the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre, and the production of this catalogue, are made possible by the support of the following societies and institutions:
The Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland
The Biochemical Society
The British Pharmacological Society
The Charles Babbage Foundation for the History of Information Processing
The Institute of Physics
The Institution of Electrical Engineers
The Nuffield Foundation
The Physiological Society
The Royal Society of London

Administrative history:
Much of Keen's career as an agricultural scientist was spent abroad on secondment to various institutes, notably in India and Africa. As a consequence of this peripatetic life, few personal records survive.
b. 1890
1902 - 08 educ. Southend High School
1908 - 11 University College, London (physics and mathematics)
1911 - 12 Troughton Research Scholarship, University College, London
1913-14 Rothamsted Experimental Station
1914 - 19 War Service
1915 married Elsie Isabelle Cowley
1919 - 47 Rothamsted Experimental Station (Assistant Director 1924) with frequent secondment overseas
1929 - 31 Director, Imperial Institute of Agricultural Research, Pusa, Bihar, India (on secondment)
1935 Fellowship of the Royal Society
1939 - 40 Visits to Bulgaria
1943 - 45 Scientific Adviser, Middle East Supply Centre, Cairo
1946 Government missions to Palestine and to West Africa
1947 - 54 Director, East African Agriculture and Forestry Research Organisation
1952 Knighthood
1954 - 65 Scientific Adviser, Baird and Tatlock (London) Limited

The chief interest of the collection is in Item 2, which consists of correspondence exchanged October-December 1931 with Sir Daniel Hall, then Director of the John Innes Horticultural Institute. The letters relate to the setting up of the Agricultural Research Council and the offer to Keen of the position of Secretary.

Memoir of Keen, by Sir Charles Pereira FRS (Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 28, 1982)  CSAC 95.6.83/1  1982

Included here is correspondence from Pereira, 1982, on the nature and interest of the papers and on the location of further material.
A note on Keen's work as Director of the East African Agriculture and Forestry Research Organisation, published on his retirement in 1954, appears in Item 3.

Correpondence with Sir Daniel Hall  CSAC 95.6.83/2  1931

The correspondence, exchanged when Keen was approaching the end of his secondment to the Imperial Institute of Agricultural Research, Bihar, relates to the setting-up of the 'Council of Agricultural Research' (later The Agricultural Research Council). Hall's letter of 6 September outlines the proposed scope of the Council and the duties of its Secretary and asks 'Does this position appeal to you?' Keen's letter of reply, dated 3 October, gives an account of his own career plans.
Also included is a letter from Hall, 30 December, commenting on Keen's report on Indian agriculture.
Hall's letter of 6 September bears marginal scorings by Sir Charles Pereira, who refers to the correspondence in his Memoir, p. 211.

Correspondence  CSAC 95.6.83/3  1954

Letters of farewell from and to Keen on his retirement from East Africa and return to Britain.
Includes press-cutting of article 'Sir Bernard Keen retires'.
Keen's letter of 11 November to Sir Vincent Glenday describes the 'very complicated distribution of my effects', which explains the paucity of surviving records.

Correspondence from Sir John Russell  CSAC 95.6.83/4  1962, 1963

Mainly re Russell's history of agricultural science in Britain, but also recalling Keen's appointment at Rothamsted (1913) and Rutherford's praise of his book The physical properties of the soil (1931).

Letter from G.D.H. Bell  CSAC 95.6.83/5  1965

On Keen's retirement as Editor, Journal of Agricultural Science, 1965 (Keen had served since 1924).

Letter of condolence, from Royal Meteorological Society  CSAC 95.6.83/6  1981

Administrative history:
(Keen had been President 1938 and 1939.)

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The records described on this page are held by London University, University College London (UCL) Manuscripts Room