Guide to the Papers of John Bolton


MS 9063

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

John Bolton
Papers of John Bolton
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 9063
0.6 metres (4 boxes)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

The collection mostly comprises articles written by Bolton which were published in various scientific journals, correspondence between Bolton and scientists in many parts of the world, congratulatory correspondence received by Bolton on his election to the Royal Society and his award of the CBE, photographs of Bolton, his colleagues and the Australian National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Parkes (NSW), some newspaper cuttings and a general file of research notes and CSIRO publications.

Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of John Bolton, National Library of Australia, MS 9063, [box number and series and/or file number]'.


The Bolton papers were donated to the Library by Mrs Letty Bolton in 1993.

An oral history interview recorded by Lennard Bickel with Bolton in 1975 is held at TRC 324.

Biographical Note

John Gatenby Bolton was born in Sheffield, England, in 1922 and received his degree in mathematics and physics at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1942. He joined the Royal Navy, carrying out radar research at the Telecommunication Research Establishment in Worcestershire. He also served as a radar officer in the Pacific on the aircraft carrier Unicorn.

In 1946 Bolton joined the Radio Astronomy Group in Australia, working for the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIRO). In 1948 he discovered several sources of cosmic radio emission from galaxies outside the Milky Way. In 1955-61, he was Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) where he established the Owens Valley Radio Observatory. In 1961-71 he was Director of the Australian National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Parkes, New South Wales, where he was involved in NASA's Apollo 11-17 moon missions.

Bolton was a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (1969), Fellow of the Royal Society (1973), vice-president of the International Astronomical Union (1977), gold medallist of the Royal Astronomical Society (1977), foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences (1980), and was appointed CBE (1981).

Bolton retired from CSIRO in 1981. He died at Buderim, Queensland, in 1993.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Correspondence, 1940-93

The series contains miscellaneous correspondence between Bolton and colleagues in the fields of physics and astronomy, as well as personal congratulatory letters and cards relating to the award of the CBE in 1981. The files have been arranged by year.

The correspondents include E.G. Bowen (Sydney), L.A. DuBridge (Pasadena), I. Prigorine (Brussells), J.L. Locke (Ottawa), Sir Frederick White (Canberra), J.P. Shelton (Melbourne), J.H. Gort (Leiden), C. Arp (Pasadena), H.W. Babcock (Pasadena), Sir Martin Ryle (Cambridge), J.S. Hey (Willingdon, U.K.), Dennis Walsh (London), R.D. Ekers (Pasadena), D.S. Heeschen (Charlottesville), B.Y. Mills (Sydney) and Philip Daly (London).

1940-46 (File 1) - Box 1

1954-60 (File 2) - Box 1

1963-69 (File 3) - Box 1

1970-75 (File 4) - Box 1

1976-79 (File 5) - Box 1

1980-81 (File 6) - Box 1

1982-93 (File 7) - Box 1

Series 2. Published articles and papers, 1947-90

This series comprises articles, papers and reprints by Bolton published in various science journals such as the Astronomical journal, Australian journal of physics and Nature. Subjects include radio astronomy, technical essays regarding the facilities at Parkes, the identification of southern quasi-stellar objects and the history of Australian astronomy. Also included is a copy of Bolton's bibliography (1947-82) and curriculum vitae. The files have been arranged by year.

1947-60 (File 1) - Box 2

1961-70 (File 2) - Box 2

1971-76 (File 3) - Box 2

1977-90 (File 4) - Box 2

Series 3. Newspaper cuttings, 1948-93

This collection of articles contains stories about Bolton's work in the United States on the discoveries of radio noises from space, the development of tracking facilities in the United States and Australia, the moon landing of 1969, Bolton's contribution to the Apollo missions, an article about Bolton election as a Fellow of the Royal Society and obituaries.

Newspaper cuttings (File 1) - Box 3

Series 4. Photographs, 1951-90

There is a collection of photographs taken of the Australian National Radio Astronomy observatory in Parkes, NSW depicting the stages of its development, 1959-81, other photographs of Bolton and colleagues and NASA images of space and Halley's Comet.

Australian National Radio Astronomy observatory, Parkes, 1959-81 (File 1) - Box 3

Other photographs, 1950-85 (File 2) - Box 3

Series 5. General papers, 1968-90

Included in this series are research notes taken by Bolton during his involvement in the Apollo 15 mission, CSIRO papers: staff newsletters, The Radiophysics laboratory 1965-68, an information booklet, The Parkes radio telescope, 1961-91 and four reports on the Prediction of long-term trends in Australian rainfall by E.G. Bowen, CSIRO, 1967-70.

Research notes, 1971 (File 1) - Box 4

CSIRO publications, 1961-90 (File 2) - Box 4