Lost Alan Turing Letters Just Turned Up Inside a Manchester University Filing Cabinet

By Tom Pritchard on at

Alan Turing was one of the greatest minds of his time, and his work was instrumental in cracking the Enigma code during World War 2 and paving the way for the modern computer. It's no wonder that finding more of his notes and letters is a big deal, and a trove of them were just discovered inside a filing cabinet in a University of Manchester storeroom.

It's not the most bizarre place Turing's work has shown up, but it's a big deal nonetheless.

The trove of letters were found by physics professor Jim Mills, who happened to be tidying the storeroom in question. He discovered an orange folder labelled with Turing's name at the back of a filing cabinet, at first assuming it had simply been emptied out and reused by another member of staff. Instead he found 148 different documents from between 1949 and his death in 1954. They include a letter from the GCHQ, a draft for a BBC radio programme about AI, and invitations to lecture at American universities.

There's nothing in there about Turing's personal life, but they do shed light on both his personality and work at the university. In particular the fact that he didn't want to lecture in America because of the journey - and the fact that he detested America itself.

The letters have now been sorted and archived at the Manchester University library, with all 148 now available to view online. [University of Manchester via Engadget]


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