||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manuscripts and research materials for Richardson's published and unpublished work;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 well as works received
from many distinguished colleagues and students. Spanning 1898 to 1958 (bulk 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
primarily written in English, although some French, German, and Italian language materials
||The papers include manuscript materials for Richardson's own monographs and articles
concerning his research on thermionic emission, the hydrogen molecule, soft X-rays,
quantum theory, the Rydberg constants, and other topics. The related work of many
of Richardson's students and fellow physicists, chemists, electrical engineers, and
mathematicians in the 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 to 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 in 1928. A small portion of the papers
are personal in nature, chiefly correspondence from or 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 William Aston,
Charles Glover Barkla, Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett, Niels Bohr, Max Born, William
Henry Bragg, William Lawrence Bragg, Percy Williams Bridgman, James Chadwick, Sydney
Chapman, John Douglas Cockcroft, Arthur Holly Compton, Edward Uhler Condon, Clinton
Joseph Davisson, Louis Victor DeBroglie, Peter Debye, Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, Arthur
Stanley Eddington, Paul Ehrenfest, Enrico Fermi, James Franck, Yakov Ilyich Frenkel,
Dennis Gabor, George Gamow, Hans Geiger, Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, Frederic Joliot,
Irene Joliot-Curie, Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, Petr Leonidovich Kapitza, Hendrik A. Kramers,
Paul 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, Rudolf 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, John H. Van Vleck, Robert Williams Wood, and Pieter Zeeman.
||The Richardson Papers were originally cataloged during a project in 1967 supported
by the Joint Committee of the American Physical Society – American Philosophical Society
on the History of Theoretical Physics in the Twentieth Century. At that time, the
papers were 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 the card file or the catalogue.
Series I. Works
||The Works series consists chiefly of research notebooks and notes, drafts, and proofs
for Richardson's professional research and writings, 1900-1949 (32 boxes). In addition
to 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
this series were co-authored with colleagues and students, among them Ursula Andrewes,
Charles B. Bazzoni, Devidas Raghunath Bhawalkar, Francis Cecil Chalklin, Rabindranath
Chaudhuri, Karl Taylor Compton, Kusumeshu Das, Percy Maurice Davidson, E. W. Foster,
Sunao Imanishi, Thomas 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, Frederick Soddy, T. Tanaka, and William Ewart Williams.
Particularly well-represented are Davidson and 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
and formats represent a single title, they are arranged from earliest to latest state.
A complete index of titles is included in the Index of Works by O. W. Richardson in
this finding aid
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
name, 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, and the Swedish Royal Academy of Science, among others.
Series III. Recipient
||The Recipient series consists of Richardson's incoming letters from approximately
3500 correspondents, 1903-1958 (23 boxes). Scientific correspondence dates primarily
from 1920 to 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 Lawrence Bragg, Percy Maurice Davidson, James Hopwood Jeans, Ernest
Rutherford, Joseph John Thomson, 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 and many other colleges and universities.
||Correspondence from British scientific societies and government organizations including
the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, the National Physical Laboratory,
the 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 the correspondence
is personal in nature, primarily letters from Richardson's sisters, their husbands,
and other relatives from the Denisoff, Davisson, Richardson, Veblen, and Wilson families.
||The recipient correspondence is arranged alphabetically by author name and chronologically
thereunder when multiple letters are present. All correspondent names are included
in the 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
they 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 Cecil Chalklin, Gerhard Heinrich Dieke, Felix Ehrenhaft,
Irving Langmuir (files concerning an 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 present are many theses and dissertations
submitted to Richardson by Riaz Ahmad, Richard Audorf, Rabindranath Chaudhuri, Kusumeshu
Das, Alexander Konstantinovitch Denisoff, Mahmoud Ahmed 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 also include letters written
to Richardson; these were left in place with the manuscript work under discussion.
||Various papers such as general correspondence, reports, minutes, notices, and programs
from 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 Physical Laboratory, the Physical Society, the Royal Commission for the
Exhibition of 1851, and the Royal Society.
||This series also contains a small amount of Richardson's non-research papers, such
as addresses, inventories of apparatus, lecture notes, lists of writings, and physics
exams, as well as correspondence from others written to his wife, Maud, and other
third-party family correspondence.
||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
of the extensive non-Richardson works present in this series. Similarly, all correspondent
names in this series are included in the Index of Correspondents segment of this finding
||Immediately following Series IV. Miscellaneous are seven boxes of original envelopes
and file folders removed from the papers during processing in the 1960s and two boxes
of items separated to oversize storage during processing.