||The papers of Nobel-prize winning physicist O. W. (Owen Willans) Richardson contain
manuscripts and research materials for Richardson's published and unpublished work;
correspondence to and from fellow scientists and educators, students, scientific
organizations, colleges and universities, government agencies, and businesses; as
works received from many distinguished colleagues and students. Spanning 1898 to 1958
1920 to 1940), the papers are arranged in four series: I. Works, 1900-1949; II. Letters,
1905-1951; III. Recipient, 1903-1958; IV. Miscellaneous, 1898-1952. The papers are
written in English, although some French, German, and Italian language materials are
||The papers include manuscript materials for Richardson's own monographs and articles
concerning his research on thermionic emission, the hydrogen molecule, soft X-rays,
theory, the Rydberg constants, and other topics. The related work of many of Richardson's
students and fellow physicists, chemists, electrical engineers, and mathematicians
international research community is well-documented in work undertaken either with
Richardson or independently. Richardson's role as an educator is revealed in correspondence
with students, colleagues, and various organizations and his files frequently include
applications, testimonials, reports, theses, and dissertations. The papers also attest
other aspects of Richardson's professional career, such as his work with scientific
organizations, attendance at conferences, work supporting government and commercial
research, patents received, and honors and awards such as the Nobel Prize for Physics
1928. A small portion of the papers are personal in nature, chiefly correspondence
to various family members.
||Among the many distinguished physicists represented in the Richardson papers by
correspondence and/or writings are Hannes Alfvén, Edward Victor Appleton, Francis
Aston, Charles Glover Barkla, Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett, Niels Bohr, Max Born,
Henry Bragg, William Lawrence Bragg, Percy Williams Bridgman, James Chadwick, Sydney
Chapman, John Douglas Cockcroft, Arthur Holly Compton, Edward Uhler Condon, Clinton
Davisson, Louis Victor DeBroglie, Peter Debye, Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, Arthur Stanley
Eddington, Paul Ehrenfest, Enrico Fermi, James Franck, Yakov Ilyich Frenkel, Dennis
George Gamow, Hans Geiger, Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, Frederic Joliot, Irene
Joliot-Curie, Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, Petr Leonidovich Kapitza, Hendrik A. Kramers,
Langevin, Irving Langmuir, Max von Laue, Ernest Orlando Lawrence, M. Stanley Livingston,
Fritz London, Hendrik Antoon Lorentz, Theodore Lyman, Albert Abraham Michelson, Robert
Andrews Millikan, Nevill Francis Mott, Robert Sanderson Mulliken, Wolfgang Pauli,
Ernst Peierls, Jean Perrin, Max Planck, Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, Ernest Rutherford,
Erwin Schrödinger, Manne Siegbahn., Arnold Sommerfeld, Otto Stern, John William Strutt
(Baron Rayleigh), George Paget Thomson, Joseph John Thomson, Harold Clayton Urey,
Van Vleck, Robert Williams Wood, and Pieter Zeeman.
||The Richardson Papers were originally cataloged during a project in 1967 supported
Joint Committee of the American Physical Society – American Philosophical Society
History of Theoretical Physics in the Twentieth Century. At that time, the papers
described on over 8,000 catalog cards which were reproduced in the 454-page A Catalogue of the Sir Owen Richardson Manuscript Collection in the History
of Science Collection, The University of Texas, compiled by James Henry Leech.
This finding aid replicates and replaces information previously available only through
card file or the catalogue.
Series I. Works
||The Works series consists chiefly of research notebooks and notes, drafts, and proofs
Richardson's professional research and writings, 1900-1949 (32 boxes). In addition
handwritten notes and drafts, typescript drafts, galley proofs, page proofs, and offprints,
a number of works are also represented by blueprints, calculations, charts, diagrams,
graphs, photographs, or plates. Research topics include, but are not limited to, thermionic
emission, the hydrogen molecule, soft X-rays, quantum theory, and the Rydberg constants.
Among the earliest materials are notebooks for experiments at Cambridge University,
1902-1906. Some of the more extensively featured manuscripts in the collection include
The Electron Theory of Matter (1914), The Emission of Electricity from Hot Bodies (1916), several papers
on the spectrum of H₂ (1929-1934), and Molecular Hydrogen and its Spectrum (1934).
||Because Richardson frequently collaborated with others, a number of works found in
series were co-authored with colleagues and students, among them Ursula Andrewes,
Bazzoni, Devidas Raghunath Bhawalkar, Francis Cecil Chalklin, Rabindranath Chaudhuri,
Taylor Compton, Kusumeshu Das, Percy Maurice Davidson, E. W. Foster, Sunao Imanishi,
Ralph Merton, A. A. Newbold, J. Nicol, Subbarao Ramachandra Rao, Eric Keightley Rideal,
Frederick Steell Robertson, F. J. Rogers, S. C. Roy, T. B. Rymer, Charles Sheard,
Soddy, T. Tanaka, and William Ewart Williams. Particularly well-represented are Davidson
Robertson, including research undertaken by Richardson and Robertson for the British
Admiralty on optics and thermionics during World War I.
||Richardson's other writings are connected with his teaching and his work with scientific
organizations, such as testimonials and reports with professional and personal evaluations
of students and colleagues, biographical sketches and obituary notices of fellow scientists,
lecture notes, and speeches. Personal writings include two poems.
||The works in this series are arranged alphabetically by title. When multiple versions
formats represent a single title, they are arranged from earliest to latest state.
complete index of titles is included in the Index of Works by O. W. Richardson in
Series II. Letters
||The Letters series spans 1905-1951 (4 boxes) and contains drafts of Richardson's outgoing
correspondence to approximately 600 colleagues, students, scientific organizations,
universities, and corporations. The letters are arranged alphabetically by recipient
including Niels Bohr, William Lawrence Bragg, American Telephone and Telegraph Company,
Percy Maurice Davidson, Clinton Joseph Davisson, Gerhard Heinrich Dieke, James Hopwood
Jeans, King's College, University of London, A. A. Newbold, Frederick Steell Robertson,
the Swedish Royal Academy of Science, among others.
Series III. Recipient
||The Recipient series consists of Richardson's incoming letters from approximately
correspondents, 1903-1958 (23 boxes). Scientific correspondence dates primarily from
1938 and includes letters pertaining to research projects and papers from well-known
physicists such as Edward Victor Appleton, Niels Bohr, William Henry Bragg, William
Bragg, Percy Maurice Davidson, James Hopwood Jeans, Ernest Rutherford, Joseph John
and many others. Other frequent correspondents include students–often sending applications,
requesting testimonials, or seeking Richardson's opinion on scientific endeavors or
training–or colleagues and administrators from King's College, University of London
other colleges and universities.
||Correspondence from British scientific societies and government organizations including
Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, the National Physical Laboratory,
Physical Society, and the Royal Society, and from major corporations with research
laboratories, such as American Telephone and Telegraph Company, Bell Telephone Laboratories,
and General Electric, is also well-represented in this series.
||The series also contains about 350 letters of congratulation on the occasions of
Richardson's Nobel Prize award in 1928 and knighthood in 1939. A small portion of
correspondence is personal in nature, primarily letters from Richardson's sisters,
husbands, and other relatives from the Denisoff, Davisson, Richardson, Veblen, and
||The recipient correspondence is arranged alphabetically by author name and chronologically
thereunder when multiple letters are present. All correspondent names are included
Index of Correspondents segment of this finding aid.
Series IV. Miscellaneous
||Items in the Miscellaneous series range from 1898 to 1952 (46 boxes) and consist largely
works by Richardson's colleagues and students, as well as third-party correspondence
wrote to persons other than Richardson.
||Works by others include their research, manuscripts, proofs, or prints of scientific
papers, such as Ernest Rutherford's "Report on the Structure of an
Atom" and J. M. Drinkwater's "An Objective Determination of the
Visibility Curves of a Michelson Interferometer." Well-represented in this series
are Ursula Andrewes, Leslie Fleetwood Bates, Devidas Raghunath Bhawalkar, Francis
Chalklin, Gerhard Heinrich Dieke, Felix Ehrenhaft, Irving Langmuir (files concerning
unsuccessful patent lawsuit brought against him by Harold D. Arnold), A. M. Mosharrafa,
Wolfgang Pauli, Frederick Steell Robertson, T. Tanaka and William Mayo Venable. Also
are many theses and dissertations submitted to Richardson by Riaz Ahmad, Richard Audorf,
Rabindranath Chaudhuri, Kusumeshu Das, Alexander Konstantinovitch Denisoff, Mahmoud
El-Sherbini, Aziz Milad Ferasah, Irena Gimpel, Otto Hahn, Hugh Harvey Hyman, Alice
Leigh-Smith, Abbas Aly Nasr, Ian Sandeman, and William Wilson. A few manuscript works
include letters written to Richardson; these were left in place with the manuscript
||Various papers such as general correspondence, reports, minutes, notices, and programs
several organizations are also present, most extensively from the Department of Scientific
and Industrial Research, King's College and the University of London, the National
Laboratory, the Physical Society, the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851,
||This series also contains a small amount of Richardson's non-research papers, such
addresses, inventories of apparatus, lecture notes, lists of writings, and physics
well as correspondence from others written to his wife, Maud, and other third-party
||The materials in this series are arranged alphabetically by creator. The finding aid
includes an Index of Works by Others to facilitate access to the names and titles
extensive non-Richardson works present in this series. Similarly, all correspondent
this series are included in the Index of Correspondents segment of this finding aid.
||Immediately following Series IV. Miscellaneous are seven boxes of original envelopes
file folders removed from the papers during processing in the 1960s and two boxes
separated to oversize storage during processing.