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Overview

Scientists, engineers, and medical researchers of the 20th century have changed history in many ways. From developing atomic energy and the atomic bomb, to advancing computer technology, metallurgy, neurology, and zoology, these are the people who pioneered modern research. In 1972 a proposal for the creation of a Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre was put forward in England by a joint committee of the Council of the Royal Society and the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. The principal aim was to ensure that the notebooks, correspondence, and papers of scientists, engineers, and medical professionals were not destroyed before their historical value had been assessed.

Since its establishment in April 1973, the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre, located at Oxford, has played a crucial role not only in locating and ensuring the preservation of these valuable materials, but in stimulating interest in the records of the scientists. The Centre is supported by, and its operations guided by, the Royal Society with the aid of other interested bodies.

The subjects covered in these catalogs include:

 

  • anatomy
  • anthropology
  • biology
  • botany
  • chemistry
  • computing

The records of scientists and engineers consist of papers in a variety of formats reflecting different phases and periods of their lives. They accumulate in different locations: their homes, the institutions where they work, and the professional societies to which they belong. They include notebooks, working papers, and manuscripts of published works; lectures and speeches; correspondence; and personal records and family photographs. The collections are cataloged and indexed by the Centre and include all of these categories of papers, assembled from various sources.

Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre Catalogues offers access to the papers of such notable scientists as:

 

  • Sir John Edward Lennard-Jones--the First Chair of Theoretical Chemistry at Cambridge University
  • Geoffrey Wingfield Harris--head of the Laboratory of Experimental Neuroendocrinology at Maudsley Hospital, London
  • Heinz London--Deputy Chief Scientist, Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell. Papers include his work on "Tube Alloys," the code name for the atomic bomb research project.
  • Cecil Frank Powell--Nobel Prize winner in physics for his work in particle physics and his discovery of the pion
  • Frederick Soddy--controversial Nobel Prize-winning chemist who lectured on the social and economic implications of atomic energy
  • Sir Cyril Norman Hinshelwood--Nobel Prize winner for his work on chain reactions

This collection provides students, historians, scientists, and social scientists source material to study not only the chain of discovery and application, but the scientists and engineers themselves as individuals and groups.

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