Call for Douglas Byrne Marconi Fellowship Applications

10 November 2010

The Bodleian Libraries are calling for applicants interested in researching the history of science and technology. Thanks to a grant from the Wireless Preservation Society, the Bodleian Libraries offer an annual fellowship to support a scholar in residence. The value of the award in 2011 will be £4000.

Applications are encouraged from those wishing to consult the Marconi Archive at the Bodleian Library and the collection of objects held at the Museum of Science, Oxford. The vast archive, occupying some 400 linear metres of shelving, includes personal papers of Guglielmo Marconi and business records relating to the radio industry up to the late twentieth century. Objects in the collection include devices from early experiments in transmission.

The first fellowship was awarded this year to Professor Peter Scott, of the Henley Business School, University of Reading, for research into competitive advantage and innovation in the interwar British radio industry. Professor Scott will deliver the first Douglas Byrne Marconi Lecture on March 1, 2011. “The Marconi fellowship has provided me with the resources to undertake in-depth research using Britain’s most extensive and important archive for the radio and related industries”, says Professor Scott. “The Marconi collection sheds important light on all aspects of the early radio industry and constitutes a key historical resource for anyone undertaking research in this area.”

The Marconi Collection was donated to the University of Oxford by Marconi plc in December 2004. A catalogue of the archive, funded by the Wireless Preservation Society, is available online from the Bodleian Library. A catalogue of the objects can be found on the website of the Museum of the History of Science.

One of the most interesting sections of the archive relates to the Titanic disaster in 1912. The role played by wireless telegraphy in saving lives during this tragic event is well documented in the archive, which features the logs of ships’ radio operators recording the first and last distress signals from the Titanic as well as thousands of other messages exchanged before, during and after the emergency.

As well as documents relating to Marconi and his Wireless Telegraph Company, there are records of numerous other electronic and electrical engineering companies, all of which were ultimately absorbed into the General Electric Company (GEC) which in 1999 changed its own name to Marconi.

The fellowship is named in memory of its founder, Douglas Byrne.

For details of funding and how to apply for the Douglas Byrne Marconi Fellowship at the Bodleian Library, visit the library website at www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/csb/, or write to: Fellowships, Centre for the Study of the Book, Bodleian Library, Oxford OX1 3BG. Applications for the 2011 fellowship must be submitted by December 31, 2010.

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