Archives of William Owen Lock (1927 – 2010)

Identity Statement [Top]

Reference code(s)

CERN-ARCH-WOL-001 to 535


Archives of William Owen Lock (1927 – 2010)


May 1954 - February 1993

Level of description


Extent of the unit of description

337 boxes; 535 Items; 38 linear metres

Context [Top]

Name of creator

William Owen Lock

Biographical history

Born on 8th August 1927, William O. Lock grew up in Cirencester in England and graduated from the University of Bristol with a First Class Honours degree in physics in 1945. He joined Cecil Powell’s international group shortly after their discovery of the pi meson. By the time he obtained his Ph.D. in 1952 he had been, successively, secretary and chairman of the Bristol branch of the Association of Scientific Workers and had joined the World Federation of Scientific Workers and the British Pugwash Movement.

In 1952 he took up a Research Fellowship in Manchester, and became a lecturer at the University of Birmingham in 1953. In addition to lecturing in the physics and extra-mural departments, he formed a group to expose nuclear emulsions to beams at the university’s newly-constructed 1 GeV proton-cyclotron.

Owen obtained a research associateship at CERN in 1959 and a staff appointment in 1960, when he took over joint leadership of the Nuclear Emulsion Group in the Nuclear Physics Division. Here he was responsible for organizing the exposure of emulsions to beams from the Proton-Synchrotron and he became Proton Synchrotron Physics Coordinator, Secretary of the Emulsion Experiments Committee and Secretary of the Nuclear Physics Research Committee. He initiated and organized the first Easter School for emulsion physicists, held in St. Cergue, France, in 1962 and repeated in 1963. This became the CERN School of Physics, held each year in a different CERN member state. He was subsequently responsible for the School becoming a joint venture with JINR, Dubna, USSR, which, from 1970, was hosted alternately in eastern and western Europe.

In 1965 he transferred to the Personnel Division to become Head of the Fellows and Visitors Service. In 1966 he became Head of the Scientific Conference Secretariat and secretary to a working group, chaired by Bernard Gregory, on the European Space Research Organization (a forerunner of ESA). In 1968 he was appointed acting Leader of the personnel Division and, in 1970, Head of Education Services and Deputy to the Personnel Division Leader until 1977.

In 1977 he became Personal Assistant to John Adams, and Secretary of the Board of Directors and of the Management Board. He continued in these roles under two subsequent Directors Generals, Herwig Schopper and Carlo Rubbia. As early as 1965 he had accompanied Bernard Gregory to Moscow to negotiate an agreement with the State Committee for Atomic Energy on collaboration between the new accelerator institute, IHEP (Protvino) and CERN. First contacts with China followed under Willibald Jentschke in 1971, which resulted in a visit by a Chinese delegation to CERN in 1973 and return visits in 1975 and 1977. These contacts led to cooperation agreements with China, signed during visits in 1979 by John Adams and in 1981 and 1985 by Herwig Schopper, where Owen was the link-person.

In 1976 the International Council of Scientific Unions founded what, in 1978, became the International Committee for Future Accelerators, ICFA, with Owen as secretary. Under Carlo Rubbia, Owen became responsible for relations with Central and Eastern Europe, in addition to his ongoing contacts with China and India, which continued until his retirement in 1992. He was instrumental in five countries acceding to full membership of CERN: Finland, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

William O. Lock died on 19th March 2010.

* Source: CERN Courier 7th June 2010

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

William O. Lock, 1987, CERN

Content & Structure [Top]

Scope and content

The archives of William Lock cover the period of his career at CERN. They include files concerning collaborations between CERN and other countries, organisations and laboratories; staff, associates and fellowships; administration and finance; management of CERN’s scientific programme, etc.

The collection includes:

  • Minutes of
    • Nuclear Physics Committee (NPRC) 1 – 70
    • SPS and PS experiments Committee (SPSC)
    • Intersecting Storage-Rings Committee (ISRC)
    • LEP Machine Advisory Committee (LMAC)
    • Visiting Scientists Committee (VSC)
    • Fellowship Selection Committee (FSC)
    • CERN-DI 1 - 260
    • Consultative Committee on Employment Conditions (CCEC) 3 – 54
    • Senior Staff Advisory Committee (SSAC) 1 - 19
  • Budgets and Finance documents
  • Documents relating to personnel, fellows and visitors
  • Correspondence, chronofiles
  • Papers relating to various schools and conferences
  • Documents of the
    • European Committee for Future Accelerators (ECFA)
    • International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA)
    • Electronic Experiments Committee (EEC)
    • Nuclear Physics Division
    • Emulsion Committee (including Emulsion Group NP-3155-1 to NP-3155-2311)
  • Directorate, Executive Board (CERN-EB 32 to 83) and Management Board (CERN-MB 1 to 62)
  • Reports, notes, agreements, procedures, protocols, user's guides, press, annual reports, memoranda, reviews, administrative circulars and papers for the Director-General
  • Files about relations with member and non-member states from 1962 to 1993, particularly the USSR (including correspondence with the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) at Serpukhov and Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) at Dubna)

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

Nothing was destroyed.


No further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

The original order has been preserved.

Conditions of access and use [Top]

Conditions governing access

See file level description and the CERN operational circular No 3: rules applicable to archival material and archiving at CERN. In general, records on any subject that are over 30 years old, and all records of a purely scientific nature, may be consulted.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright is retained by CERN, no reproduction without permission.

Language / scripts of material

Most of the material is written in English or French, but some also in German. A few documents are written in Italian or Russian.

Finding aids

Listed to file level in the CERN Archives Database.

Description control [Top]

Archivist's note

Description prepared by Sonia Manaï.

Date(s) of description

Geneva, the 5th May 2014.