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Physics Department of Imperial College

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0098 KP
Held at: Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine
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Full title: Physics Department of Imperial College
Date(s): Created 1882-1985
Level of description: Series of Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine records
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Extent: 25 boxes
Name of creator(s): Royal College of Science
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Department of Physics has its origins in the teaching of Mechanical Science at the Government School of Mines and Science (later the Royal School of Mines) which opened in 1851. In 1853 Applied Mechanics and Experimental Physics were taught at the School. After 1872 Physics, Chemistry and Natural History were transferred to South Kensington.
Astronomy was taught from 1882, with the first Professor of Astronomical Physics being appointed in 1887. In 1911 a Department and Committee for Technical Optics was established, which in 1918 separated from the Department of Physics. By 1926, the department had become a postgraduate section of the Department of Physics, and later became the Applied Optics Section.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Department of Physics of Imperial College, 1882-1985, including a departmental history from 1851-1960; papers relating to courses, 1885-1982, including course syllabus, 1885, 1903, 1928; laboratory experiment papers, 1982; research on uranium, 1940-1941; laboratory notes, 1895; papers relating to a departmental photograph, [1893]; lecture notes, 1892;
correspondence, including with the adminstration department, of Professor Hugh Longbourne Callendar, 1908-1929; Professor Robert John Strutt, 1908-1920; Professor Alfred Fowler, 1910-1924; Professor Frederic John Cheshire, 1917-1925; Professor Louis Claude Martin, 1917-1950; Professor Alexander Oliver Rankine, 1927-1937; relating to photography, 1945-1951; Rectors' correspondence, 1955-1980; purchase of equipment, 1965-1974; examination papers, 1933-1969; inventories of apparatus, 1947-1969; students' newspapers, 1985;

papers relating to Astronomical Physics, including reports of the Solar Physics Committee, 1882-1911; demonstrations and practical work, 1889-1931; Spectroscopic laboratory record, 1906-1936, equipment, 1912; examinations notebook, 1883-1921; Astronomical laboratory visitors' book, 1907-1914 (KPA);

correspondence of Professor Herbert Dingle, 1928-1944, principally relating to the acquistion of a spectrograph (KPAB); correspondence of Reginald William Blake Pearse, 1931-1950 (KPAC); papers written by Sir William de Wiveslie Abney (printed), 1874-1917 (KPC);

course booklet for Atmospheric Physics, [1977] (KPM); papers of the Applied Optics Section, including correspondence, 1912-1918; minutes and correspondence of the Technical Optics (later Applied Optics) Committee, 1918-1974; papers relating to events, including open day, 1961; Jubilee celebrations, 1968; 60th anniversary celebrations, 1978; general papers, 1943-1979 (KPT); inventory of apparatus, 1917-1960 (KPTA).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The records are arranged in sections as outlined in the scope and content.

Conditions governing access:

Researchers wishing to consult the Archives should first contact the College Archivist, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2AZ, for an appointment.

Conditions governing reproduction:

A photocopying service is available at the discretion of the Archivist. Photocopies are supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Archivist.

Finding aids:

A catalogue is available at the College Archives.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Created and accumulated by the Royal College of Science and Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine during the course of business.

Immediate source of acquisition:

The papers of Sir William de Wiveshie Abney were loaned by the Vision Group, Biophysics.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Records of the Royal College of Science (E), Interdisciplinary Centres and Courses (KO), records relating to the University of London (UL), papers of Professor James Dwyer McGee, 1937-1979 (B/MCGEE), Professor Herbert Dingle, 1904-1978 (B/DINGLE) and Professor Alfred Fowler, 1903-1935 (KPAA FOWLER), held at Imperial College.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
October 2000

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