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Q: Biog. details on Prof. Gilbert Stead ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Biog. details on Prof. Gilbert Stead
Category: Science > Physics
Asked by: neverfear-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 07 Jun 2005 14:23 PDT
Expires: 07 Jul 2005 14:23 PDT
Question ID: 530497
I am seeking biographical details about Gilbert Stead, a physicist
born in 1888.  In particular, I would like to know whether he really
was an undergraduate at the Cavendish lab (or instead had a different
status there), where he was a professor (I'm pretty sure that he was
one somewhere), what his research interests were, and what notable
accomplishments he has.  It would also be nice to find out who his
children and perhaps grandchildren are, though that is secondary.

Here's what I know so far:
He was born in 1888, and attended the Cavendish Laboratory at
Cambridge.  (I think this was as an undergrad, though I would like to
have that confirmed.)  I don't know where he went to grad school (and
would be nice to find out).  He authored the text "Elementary
Physics", which was originally published in 1924, with subsequent
editions up through 1971.

I _think_ he may have gone into radiology, and may have had an
appointment at Guy's Hospital in London, perhaps as part of the
faculty of King's College.  (I base these suppositions on the fact
that there is a listing for a photo of someone with his name in the
web site at Guy's Hospital, and that the co-author for the later
editions of his text, Cecil Benjamin Allsop, was definitely on the
staff at Guy's Hospital.)

If this is right, then he would presumably be the author of the
article, "Sixty Years of Radiology; Physics" (British Journal of
Radiology, 29 (342), 234-8, 1956); the author is listed as "G. Stead,
M. A., D. Sc., F. Inst. P.", where the latter acronym stands for
"Fellow of the Institute of Physics".  It would be nice to confirm
whether he did indeed author this.  I could e-mail a pdf of the
article if it would be helpful.

Again, the things I am most interested in are the dates that he was at
the Cavendish Lab, whether he was an undergraduate there or had a more
advanced standing, and where he later became a faculty member.  Any
additional information would be much appreciated.  (Basically, I need
to write a short biographical sketch of him.)

He is not listed in any of the Biographical Dictionaries I have checked.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 07 Jun 2005 16:48 PDT

I've found a fairly detailed obituary for Gilbert Stead, who died in
1979 at the age of 91.  The article covers his teaching career in q
good deal of detail, but is suprisingly lacking in information on his
early education, publications, or family.  I also found a few other
biographical mentions of him

All told, I can place him at Cavendish as early as 1919, and step
through his career at Cambridge and Guy's Hospital Medical School
until his retirement in 1953.  However, I have little detail on his
activities prior to 1919.

Would that serve as an answer to your question?


Clarification of Question by neverfear-ga on 08 Jun 2005 07:10 PDT
The information found by pafalafa-ga sounds good enough for what I need.
Subject: Re: Biog. details on Prof. Gilbert Stead
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 08 Jun 2005 14:44 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks for your patience while I pieced together the information I had
on Gilbert Stead.

Professor Stead's career was reviewed in his obituary, which appeared
in the Times of London.   Here are some key excerpts from that

The Times
Friday, Nov 16, 1979; pg. 8
Prof Gilbert Stead 

"Professor Gilbert Stead, who died on July 5, 1979, aged 91, will be
remembered at Cambridge and at Guy's Hospital Medical School as an
outstanding teacher and more widely for his contributions to the
establishment of medical radiology as a recognized speciality..."

I cannot reproduce the article in full, since it is copyrighted, but
the main points about Prof. Stead's life and work are as follows:

--He was at Cavendish Laboratory in 1919, and in 1924 took over
physics teaching responsibilities as a Lecturer in Physics Applied to
Medical Radiology,,he held this post until 1938.

--1927-1942 he was Secretary to the Diploma Committee at Cavendish.

--1923 appointed to readership in physics (part-time) at Guy's
Hospital Medical School.

--1938, elected to newly-created Chair of Physics at Guy's, and held
this until his retirement in 1953.

--His department was evacuated to Tunbridge Wells during WWII.

--During his stay at Guy's he taught physics to more than 3,000 students

--He was very well regarded as a teacher.  His obituary notes, "Gentle
in manner he nevertheless retained in his lecture room an air of
command which did not invite disturbance.  What he perhaps did not
realize was the depth of the affection which they came to feel for

--Other affiliations included:

-Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Board as an awarder in physics

-President, British Institute of Radiology 1947-48

-Delivered the Silvanus Thompson Memorial Lecture (at the above Institute) in 1959

-Governor of Guy's Medical School from 1948-53.

Oddly, the article does not mention Stead's education, or any details
of his pre-professor life.

There are other mentions of Stead in other articles in The Times, including:

The Times
Thursday, Jun 21, 1923; pg. 9

University News
College Awards At Cambridge. 

...Mr. Gilbert Stead, M.A. (Camb.) to the university Readership in
Physics, tenable at Guy's Hospital Medical School...

[I presume this means he earned his M.A. at Cambridge]

The Times
Thursday, Feb 23, 1939; pg. 11

University News

...The title of Professor of Physics in the University was conferred
on Mr. Gilbert Stead, M.A. (Cambridge). in respect of the post held by
him at Guy's Hospital Medical School...

The Times
Monday, Jul 27, 1953; pg. 8

University News 
[mentions his retirement]

There are a few other references to Gilbert Stead on the internet and
in other ressources:

His tenure at Cambridge is noted on the University's website:
Stead, Gilbert 
1924-38     Physics (as applied to Medical Radiology), Lectureship 

There is also an explanation at the site of the position of Lectureship:

University Lecturers 
University Senior Lecturers

The amendments to Statute D establishing the office of University
Senior Lecturer were approved by the Queen in Council on 19 April
2000. The criteria for promotion from University Lecturer to
University Senior Lecturer are (a) Sustained excellence in teaching
(in contributions to the development of courses, and in at least one
of lecturing, conducting seminars, and supervision and direction of
studies of students), (b) sustained supportiveness and efficiency in
undertaking administrative and organizational tasks (including, where
appropriate, the management of research groups), and (c) achievement
in research/scholarship. The first appointments were from 1 October
2000. Since all holders, hitherto, have previously been University
Lecturers, Senior Lecturers are not separately listed here, but dates
of promotion to Senior Lecturer are shown where relevant in the list
of Lecturers.

Lectureships are of two kinds. The post of University Lecturer came
into being with the statutes of 1882; appointment is by the General
Board in consultation with the appropriate faculty or department (or,
in earlier years, Special Board). Others, listed in the Historical
Register and its Supplements under 'Special Foundations' are temporary
appointments, with the appointed lecturer giving either a single
lecture or a single course of lectures annually. 'Regular' lecturers
are listed in alphabetical order of subject.
In the early part of the twentieth century lectureships, except those
with stipends provided solely from the Medical Grant Fund, were
normally tenable only for five years without re-appointment. Most
existing lectureships were brought under the new statutes of 1926
which gave the General Board the responsibility of settling the number
of lectureships in each Faculty and Department. The holders of these
are listed below under their precise subject, if stated, or under
their Faculty or Department where no more precise title was given.
(Where promotion to Reader or Professor is shewn without a title, the
title is the same as that of the Lectureship). Appointment was now by
the Appointments Committee of the Faculty concerned. At this time much
of the responsibility for teaching began to move from the colleges to
the university bringing with it a dramatic increase in the number of

Stead does not have his own entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography, but he is mentioned in another entry:

Stoner, Edmund Clifton (1899-1968), physicist, was born on 2 October
1899 at East Molesey, Surrey, the only child of Arthur David Hallett
Stoner (1870?1938), cricket professional, and his wife, Mary Ann
(1868?1955), a domestic servant, daughter of Thomas Robert Fleet, of
Streatham, London. He was educated at Bolton grammar school and at
Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was awarded an open exhibition
in natural sciences. He obtained a first class in both part one (1920)
and part two (physics, 1921) of the natural sciences tripos. In 1921
he was awarded a Department of Scientific and Industrial Research
maintenance grant to carry out research work at the Cavendish
Laboratory under the supervision of Sir E. Rutherford. His first paper
(1922), with Gilbert Stead, concerned low voltage glows in mercury

By the way, I also searched patent databases for any mention of
gilbert Stead's work, but nothing came up.  Nor is their mention of
him in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

I trust this information fully answers your question.  

However, please don't rate this answer until you have everything you
need.  If you would like any additional information, just post a
Request for Clarification to let me know how I can assist you further,
and I'm at your service.

All the best,


search strategy -- searched Google for [ "gilbert stead" OR "gilbert *
stead" OR "stead gilbert" ] along with various other data resources as
mentioned above.
neverfear-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $20.00
Wonderfully complete and very fast! I would love to have this
researcher do work for me again!

Subject: Re: Biog. details on Prof. Gilbert Stead
From: pafalafa-ga on 09 Jun 2005 07:16 PDT
Thanks very much!  It's always great to hear that our work is
appreciated, and the stars and the tip ain't bad, either.

Hope we'll see you back at GA one of these days.

Subject: Re: Biog. details on Prof. Gilbert Stead
From: bikon-ga on 04 Jul 2005 13:14 PDT
Just a quick note that if he had an M.A. from cambridge that means he
would have in fact been an undergrauate there since this is not an
earned degree there but rather it is the first degree (normally B.A.)
which is automatically upgraded to MA.

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