The seismological and other collections of Dr ATJ Dollar, held in the National Seismological Archive (NSA), have been examined and catalogued as part of an NSA initiative on the study of the history of seismology. The Adobe Acrobat PDF version of the report on this project can be downloaded from the foot of this page, or from the NSA reports page.
A.T.John Dollar (1908-1981) graduated in geology from King's College, London in 1931, and moved to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where, supervised by CE Tilley, he gained his PhD on the petrology and structure of Lundy. In 1935 he became a Research Fellow at Emmanuel, and after a brief period at St Andrews University moved to Glasgow University in 1939. War service interrupted his tenure there, then, in 1950 Dollar became head of the Geology Department at Birkbeck College, and remained there until his retirement.
During his academic career, Dollar developed interests in many subjects. His collected papers reflect these interests, and contain material on volcanology (including photos and articles on Surtsey, Jan Mayen, Iceland, Hawaii and various Pacific Islands), tsunamis, geology (especially of the southwest peninsula and Lundy), landslips, seismology and seismotectonics. He was largely responsible for the installation of a Jaggar Recorder at Comrie, Perthshire in 1938, and was particularly interested in the Great Glen and its supposed seismicity. Dollar wanted instrumentation on both sides of the fault, and was keen to site a seismograph at Fort Augustus Abbey. He also invented a clinometer, and various accessories for petrological microscopes.
With funding and support from the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA), Dollar set up the British Earthquake Enquiry in October 1935. His aim was to produce an earthquake catalogue for the UK to complement the pioneering seismological work of Dr Charles Davison, whose catalogue terminated in 1915. He also set up a network of ultimately up to 200 volunteer observers in all parts of the UK whose function was to submit details of felt earthquakes and assist in his macroseismic surveys. Dollar also met Davison, who was living in Cambridge in retirement, and the two discussed macroseismic methods and the wording of questionnaires. Davison advised Dollar to invest in a typewriter as he had done himself and increased his output threefold. Examination of the correspondence relating to these events has revealed a wealth of new detail on UK seismology at that time, and enabled the updating of various reports on historical seismology, for example the report on Historical Seismological Observatories in the British Isles.
The most significant subjects among the Dollar papers are the collected macroseismic surveys and the mass of correspondence relating to the British Earthquake Enquiry and Dollar's seismological work with the British Association. The remainder of his archive contains an admixture of papers from other sources, principally E Tillotson of the BA and GW Tyrrell of Glasgow University but with a little from HH Turner of Oxford University. Strangely, only one or two seismograms were found among the Dollar papers, although numerous correspondents (among them EW Pollard of Dorking, FL Vanderplank of Bristol, Father Rowland of Stonyhurst, and many others) refer to sending seismograms to Dollar.