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Has anyone besides Egon Pearson accessed William Sealy Gosset's 1904 report "The Application of the 'Law of Error' to the Work of the Brewery"? I guess it's Guinness property, but given its historical significance, it would have been a very interesting read, if someone were to know how to get their hands on it.

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Stephen Ziliak, an Economics professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago, has published a number of papers (and a book) on Gosset and related topics. See, for example, this paper, which quotes the 1904 report you mention. In the references section, he cites 15 volumes of Laboratory Reports, which include Gosset's 1904 paper.

The Guinness web site says the archives are open to researchers by appointment; I wasn't able to find a digital copy of that particular paper.

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    $\begingroup$ I want to be the guy that shows up at the Guinness brewery, not for the beer, but for the science. CrossValidated field trip? $\endgroup$ Feb 16, 2016 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ I for one have never been a stout person, so I much prefer Guinness research to Guinness beer. I might actually make an inquiry with the company if I am ever going to Ireland. $\endgroup$
    – FredrikH-R
    Mar 8, 2016 at 13:53
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    $\begingroup$ @MatthewDrury All right guys, I'm going to a conference in Dublin next week, and can confirm that Guinness indeed seem to allow people (at least academics) into their archives. $\endgroup$
    – FredrikH-R
    Aug 16, 2016 at 15:07
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I just emailed them through their contact form https://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en/archives/archives-contact and I received a PDF copy. It's a very interesting read.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. I emailed them once and they told me to come in person if I wanted to see it. Since the document is long since public domain, could you post it online? $\endgroup$
    – gwern
    Apr 18 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ I got the following reply: Hi Daniel, Thank you for your email. ‘The Application of the “Law of Error” to the work of the Brewery’ by WS Gosset is preserved within the Guinness Archive in a bound volume of laboratory reports – GDB/RD05/0010. I have shared a copy of the report with you through this link. Please note, the report is being shared with you for personal research only and should not be further shared or reproduced without first obtaining permission from the Guinness Archive. Best wishes, Éilis So, I can't share it. I don't think it is in the public domain. $\endgroup$
    – lakens
    Apr 25 at 5:26
  • $\begingroup$ It would be surprising for anything written in 1904 to still be copyright - there are some things like music or the King James Bible which can get weird, but they are definitely exceptions to the general rule of thumb that pre-1930 is PD. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_law_of_Ireland says 70 year from death of author, regardless of whether Gosset owned the copyright or it was a work-for-hire with copyright owned by Guinness (surely the latter). Gosset died in 1937, so the copyright expired in 2007, 15 years ago. You don't (legally) need their permission. $\endgroup$
    – gwern
    Apr 26 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ I think you misunderstand: It was never copyrighted. There is no copyright notice in the document, as the owner (Guinness) never intended to copy or distribute it in any way. They simply own it, and can let others read it (or not). $\endgroup$
    – lakens
    Apr 27 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ I went in person and got to see it for 20 minutes or so. Took some photographs of a couple of the reports, and that was it (they also made me promise not to share them). Interesting that they've opened the archive a bit more - a good move imo. It's perfectly reasonable that they don't want their company heritage released "into the wild" though. We should all respect that, regardless of copyright status. $\endgroup$
    – FredrikH-R
    Apr 28 at 12:02

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