Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher, 1890-1962
R.A. Fisher's extraordinary contributions to statistical theory and methods, experimental design, scientific inference, evolutionary biology and genetics have had far-reaching consequences in many branches of human thought and endeavour. The achievements of this marvellously gifted, energetic and productive scientist have attracted continuing attention, not only for his seven books and several hundred papers (published in more than 80 different journals) but also his scientific correspondence with its thought-provoking content and ideas for further development.
After the death of this remarkable scientist in Adelaide on 29 July 1962, the editing of his Collected Papers was undertaken by J.H. Bennett, then Professor of Genetics at the University of Adelaide. Bennett was a former student, research assistant, colleague and friend of Fisher at Cambridge and closely associated with him after Fisher's 1959 visit to the Adelaide CSIRO Division of Mathematical Statistics. The papers were published in five volumes by the University between 1971 and 1974 in an edition of 1000 copies. Two further collections were subsequently edited by Professor Bennett with selections from Fisher's correspondence, Natural Selection, Heredity, and Eugenics: Including selected correspondence of R.A. Fisher with Leonard Darwin and others (Clarendon Press, 1983) and Statistical Inference and Analysis: Selected correspondence of R.A. Fisher (Clarendon Press, 1990).
Fisher's archives were deposited with the Special Collections of the Barr Smith Library by Professor Bennett in 1981 and subsequently attracted many research enquiries from within Australia and overseas. In 2000 the Library undertook to progressively digitise selections from Fisher's published and unpublished work in order to further publicise his scientific contributions and make his work more readily available to users beyond Adelaide.
The Fisher collection contains scholarship prize books (the collected works of Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley) awarded to Fisher by the Harrow School and Caius College, as well as editions of Fisher's works (including foreign language translations) and selected books from his own personal library.