Archival Research

— Turing and Wiener Repositories (Working List)

The Turing Archive. The Papers of Alan Mathison Turing, GBR/0272/AMT. Archive Centre, King’s College, Cambridge.

The Turing Digital Archive. Modern Archives Centre, King’s College, Cambridge. Digital Archive.

Norbert Wiener Papers. ID MC-0022. 73 Boxes. Archives and Special Collections, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Physical Archive.

Norbert Wiener Papers. Box 15, Folder 9. ID LP001168. Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University, Detroit. Physical Archive.

Norbert Wiener Papers. The Cybernetics Thought Collective: A History of Science and Technology Portal Project. Papers of Heinz von Foerster, W. Ross Ashby, Warren S. McCulloch, and Norbert Wiener from the University of Illinois, The British Library, the American Philosophical Society, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Managed by the University of Illinois. Digital Archive.

— Turing Digital Archive Student Research Project Summer 2022

The aim of this student summer project was to assist Dr. Teresa Heffernan in identifying references to fiction and religion in Alan Turing’s papers while gaining experience in archival systems and research processes. Research activities included: reviewing five biographical accounts (Jack Copeland, editor, 2004Harry Henderson 2011Andrew Hodges 2012Dermot Turing 2015Sara Turing 2012); searching Turing’s major published papers; and searching the Turing Digital Archives containers for published and unpublished works and correspondence. It must be stated that the results are limited because the scope of research did not extend beyond the digitized holdings at Cambridge University. Given this, the following are some of the findings:

Direct References to Fiction

  • George Bernard Shaw, “Back to Methuselah” — Reference in a letter to Sara Turing 26 May 1933 (Turing Digital Archive: AMT.K.1.24). [Quote: There has been a very good play on by Bernard Shaw called ‘Back to Methuselah’.]
  • R.D. Blackmoore, Lorna Doone — Reference in a letter to Sara Turing 3 Mar. 1935. [Quote: I have at last finished Lorna Doone: pretty creditable don’t you think? I can’t quite make out whether it is badly written on purpose …]
  • Henrik Ibsen, plays — Reference in a letter to Sara Turing 1 Mar. [1936]. [Quote: There have been some plays of Ibsen’s at the local theatre … They were remarkably good.]
  • TS Eliot, “Murder in the Cathedral” — Reference in a letter to Sara Turing 7 Mar. [1938]. [Quote: I went to ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ last Saturday with [illegible]. Was very much impressed with it. It was very much easier to understand …]
  • Gilbert and Sullivan, “M.M.S. Pinafore” and “Trial by Jury” — Reference in a letter to Sara Turing 17 May [1938]. [Quote: There was quite a good performance of ‘M.M.S. Pinafore’ and ‘Trial by Jury’ here last week-end …]
  • Samuel Butler, Erewhon — Cited in bibliography of “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” (published in Copeland, B. Jack, ed. The Essential Turing 2004, 475; also Mind v59 1950, 460). Direct reference in “Intelligent Machinery, A Heretical Theory (1951)” (Lecture published in Copeland 2004, 475; also published in Philosophia Mathematica 4, 3 1996: 260)
  • Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-glass — Reference in a letter to R.O Gandy [Early 1953]. [Quote: I was amused about “impenetrability”: at first I thought it was a reference to “Through the Looking-glass” where Humpty Dumpty says “Impenetrability, that’s what I say”, but on looking up the reference thought probably not.]

References to Myth, Religion, Free Will

  • Direct reference to Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker in a letter to Sara Turing 31 Aug. 1941. [Quote: “I have just been reading a religious book by Dorothy Sayers called ‘The Mind of the Maker’, you should read it when you can.]
  • Direct reference to The Mind of the Maker, and mention of “Promethean irreverence,” “God,” and “St. Augustine” in “Intelligent Machinery (1948)” (published in Copeland 2004, 410)
  • Discussion of the “Theological Objection” in “Computing Machinery and Intelligence (1950)” (published in Copeland 2004, 449-450; also Mind v59, 443-4). References to God’s creative power, Christian view of the immortal soul, animals and machine lack soul, also cannot think, “Moslem view that women have no soul,” St Aquinas.
  • “Free will” is discussed in “Can Digital Computers Think?” Lecture (1951) published in Copeland (2004), 484. Also discussed in Turing’s early essay “Nature of Spirit” (“’Nature of Spirit.’ Essay written during a visit to Clock House, Bromsgrove.” AMT.C.29, The Turing Digital Archive, King’s College, Cambridge). This is a brief explanation handwritten by Alan Turing around 1933 on the relation between matter and spirit, science and religion. Typescript version is published in Hodges 63-6, also note 2.12, p. 544.

Short Story by Alan Turing

Unpublished, archival material, not found in the Turing Digital Archive. According to Hodges (2012, 448), three pages of this story exist; according to Dermot Turing (2015, 267) six pages exist. Hodges (2012) provides excerpts from the first and third pages, 448, 519, respectively.

Possible Literary Influences

  • Anderson, Hans Christian (Sara Turing 2012, 108)
  • Austen, Jane (Hodges 2012, 426; Sara Turing 2012, 108)
  • BBC Children’s Hour, Toy Town plays (Sara Turing 2012, 109)
  • Butler, Samuel, Erewhon (Sara Turing 2012, 108)
  • Dickens, Charles, The Pickwick Papers (Sara Turing 2012, 108)
  • Forster, E.M. (Hodges 2012, 448)
  • Galsworthy, John, The Forsyte Saga ((Sara Turing 2012, 108
  • Hardy, Thomas, Tess of the d’Urbervilles (Hodges 2012, 207)
  • Orwell, George, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Hodges 2012, 424)
  • Sayers, Dorothy, novels (Sara Turing 2012, 108)
  • Shaw, George Bernard, “Back to Methuselah,” “Pygmalion” (Alan Hodges, A. Alan Turing: The Enigma 2012: 72, 74, 78-9, 127, 207, 266, 308, 417, 424-5, 521)
  • Thackeray, W. M., Vanity Fair (Sara Turing 2012, 108)
  • Tolstoy, Leo, Anna KareninaWar and Peace (Hodges 2012, 520-1; Sara Turing 2012, xx, 109)
  • Trollope, Anthony (Hodges 2012, 426; Sara Turing 2012, 108)
  • Wells, H.G. (Hodges 2012, 452)

Student Research Experience Summaries

Ellen Nantau, “Touring the Turing Digital Archive for References to Fiction and Myth

Haydn Hopkins, “The Alan Turing Digital Archive and References to George Bernard Shaw