Turing Trust: historical note

Donald Michie, University of Edinburgh

Background and objectives

The Turing Trust was set up in November 1975 as a registered charity, and received a legacy of £1000 from Turing's mother, Sara Turing, who died in March of the following year. In 1960 she had already deposited in the Library of King's College, Cambridge (where Turing had held a Fellowship) 77 letters from her son's schooldays onwards, together with ancillary items that arose in writing her book Alan M. Turing (Heffer: Cambridge, 1959). By 1977 the Trust had arranged for this small archive to be augmented by further papers and memorabilia, in particular from Turing's close friend Robin Gandy, a founding Trustee. In locating and acquiring further materials, tireless and skilful work was contributed in particular by Jeannine Alton and Andrew Hodges.

The Board had two additional objectives:

  1. To provide assistance and specialist information needed by Robin Gandy in his preparation for a collected edition of Turing's scientific publications. Dr Gandy's plan was in the event subsumed into a series of four volumes published by Elsevier Science Ltd. Covering respectively Turing's contributions to pure mathematics, the theory of morphogenesis, mechanical intelligence and mathematical logic, the first three were completed by different editors. The editing of the fourth, on which Robin Gandy and Mike Yates were working at the time of his death in 1995, is in the process of completion by Professor Yates, who is also Gandy's literary executor.

  2. To arrange for a series of Turing memorial lectures to be delivered by acknowledged authorities on topics related to selected aspects of Turing's work. This eventually became possible after the establishment of the Turing Institute in Glasgow. In association with the University of Strathclyde, the Institute hosted seven public lectures in the period 1985-93.

When completion of all tasks was in sight, the Board ceased activity. It was revived briefly by the Chairman's discovery in 1996 that instructions to lawyers in 1983 for its formal dissolution had never been implemented. Before finally dissolving, the Board's last act, in the Summer of 1997, was to convert from permanent deposit to outright gift all materials that had been received by King's College Library, either through the individual or collective agency of its members, including in particular the two catalogued deposits made by Jeannine Alton and Peter Croft.


(Affiliations listed are those in operation at the time of joining the Board.)


  • Mr William Crabbe (deceased) Lindsays, 32 Charlotte St., Edinburgh (solicitor)
  • Dr Robin Gandy (deceased) Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford (source of the nucleus of the Trust's collection; in addition Dr Gandy envisaged and had initiated an edited Collected Works)
  • Prof. John Maynard Smith FRS, University of Sussex (expert on Turing's mathematical theory of morphogenesis)
  • Prof. Donald Michie, University of Edinburgh (Chairman; friend and wartime colleague of Turing)
  • Prof. Alan Robinson, University of Syracuse, USA (implementer of a widely adopted basis for Turing's proposal to mechanise symbolic logic)


  • Mrs Jeannine Alton, The Royal Society Contemporary Scientific Archive Centre
  • Dr Sydney Brenner FRS, MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology, Cambridge and Fellow of King's College
  • Mr Peter Croft (deceased) Fellow and Librarian of King's College, Cambridge (curator of the collection until his death)
  • Mrs Jean Hayes Michie, University of Edinburgh (Secretary of the Trust since its inception)
  • Mr Andrew Hodges who was then embarking on his biography Alan Turing: the Enigma (Burnett Books Ltd.: London, 1983).

August 1997

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