Catalogue description Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of FREDERICK SODDY, FRS (1877-1956)

This record is held by Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections

Details of CSAC 14.8.74
Reference: CSAC 14.8.74
Title: Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of FREDERICK SODDY, FRS (1877-1956)

A large number of manuscript notebooks,remaining in the Department of Inorganic Chemistry,Oxford,was added to the collection with the permission of Professor J.S.Anderson,FRS. These books (Items 46 - 92 and 185 - 215) run from 1894 - 1956 and furnish a continuous picture of Soddy's professional activity throughout his life. They throw light on such matters as his researches as Dr. Lee's Professor of Chemistry at Oxford,and his later interest in mathematics (see Note to Section VII).


The Sections of the present handlist have been itemised chronologically


Unless otherwise stated,all items are manuscript. Titles in inverted commas are those which appear on the MSS.


I Biographical Material 1 - 28


II Material collected by Mrs. M.Howorth for Pioneer Research on the Atom 29 - 43A


III Printed material 44 - 45


IV Laboratory notebooks 46 - 92; 185 - 215


V Lectures,articles,addresses 93 - 126


Oxford 93 - 98


McGill 99 - 102


Glasgow 103 - 108


Aberdeen 109 - 114


VI Papers relating to Soddy's work in Aberdeen 1914 - 18 127 - 153


VII Papers relating to work on mathematical problems 155 - 172


VIII Publication :'The Story of Atomic Energy' 174 - 184


IX Correspondence 216 - 260


Compiled by Jeannine Alton and Harriot Weiskittel

Date: 1894-1958
Related material:

A few printed books belonging to Soddy were accepted by the Radcliffe Science Library, Oxford.


Offprints presented to Soddy by W.H.Bragg were offered to the Archives of the Royal Institution for the Bragg Collection.


Models of Soddy's own design of Constant Speed Universal Joint Mechanisms were transferred to the Department of Engineering Science, Oxford about 1960.


The following material is held by the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford


Museum 74-1; parts of Soddy's machine for solving cubic equations with three real roots.


Museum 73-4; 19 boxes of slides prepared for Soddy's chemical lectures.


Manuscript material as described in the following extracts from the Museum's catalogue of manuscripts


MS Museum 121 FREDERICK SODDY A collection of manuscripts,typescripts,reviews and offprints including a collection of bills,letters,and certificates relating to radioactive samples; a manuscript notebook entitled 'Work on the scheme...started Feb.17th 1914,to look for "UR.2." an isotope of UrX2,producing Actinium in an X - ray change'; a set of notes,dated Mar.28 - Oct. 20,1913,on the separation of Ur.X & Y; three letters from Soddy to Brewer 1951 - 56; a letter to Brewer from T.E.Soddy,Oct. 17,1957; letter to Sir Harold Hartley from Brewer,Jan 3,1953; a typescript and working drawing entitled 'Soddy's Machine for solving the cubic equation with three real roots. Third model with positive linkages throughout. 3.III.56.'; an unsigned typewritten memorial speech on Soddy; a number of publishers' advertisements and reviews of Muriel Howorth, Pioneer Research...; a copy of Die Neue Zeitung,no.156,5 - 6,July 1952,with a photograph of Soddy; pamphlets and offprints.


MS Museum 126 FREDERICK SODDY Notes for twenty-three lectures on radioactivity; absorption,deposit and decay curves for radioactive substances (1914 and 1917); notes on Actinium.


MS Museum 160 FREDERICK SODDY Details of experiments of 19 December 1950, being a spectrograph anlysis of Professor Soddy's lead together with a letter from C.H.Collie relating to the experiment (3 September 1971)


A model of an unconventional internal combustion engine incorporating an unusual mechanical linkage. Designed by Professor F.Soddy,FRS.,Dr. Lee's Professor of Chemistry. Made by Mr. F.J.March,Chief Mechanic,Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory,late 1920's. Transferred from the Chemistry Department between 1 August 1959 and 31 July 1960

Held by: Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Soddy, Frederick, 1857-1956, scientist and chemist

Physical description: 258 items
Custodial history:

The collection,assembled from various sources,covers the years 1894 - 1958.


At his death in 1956,Soddy bequeathed his papers,notebooks and manuscripts to Major and Mrs. Howorth as his literary trustees. In 1958 Mrs. Howorth published a biography,Pioneer Research on the Atom...The Life Story of Frederick Soddy,New World Publications London,drawing on some of the manuscript material,which she numbered and arranged in the order in which it was used in her book (see Pioneer Research...pps 333 - 339). These documents,together with other material not used in the book and therefore unsorted and unnumbered,were subsequently deposited by Mrs. Howorth in the Bodleian Library,Oxford. The unused material (Sections VI - VIII of the present handlist) includes a substantial record of Soddy's work during the 1914 - 1918 War,not previously available (see Note to Section VI).


While preparing her book,Mrs. Howorth conducted an extensive correspondence with Soddy; she says that 300 letters were exchanged during 1953 - 54 alone (Pioneer Research...p.325). This correspondence is widely drawn upon in her book and appears to have contained matter of considerable biographical and scientific interest. In 1969 Mrs. Howorth lent 53 of the letters to Dr. T.J.Trenn,who returned them to her after making Xerox copies of 32 of them in whole or in part as research copies. Attempts to trace the originals have proved unsuccessful and Dr. Trenn's copies are now the only record. A set of second copies,which he has kindly made available,appears as Item 29,together with one of the originals which had been included with Mrs. Howorth's material left to the Bodleian Library.

  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
Unpublished finding aids:

Concordance of reference numbers used by Mrs Howorth with those used in this handlist, available at the Bodleian Library.

Administrative / biographical background:

1877 b. Eastbourne


1891 - 94 Educated Eastbourne College


1894 - 95 University College of Wales,Aberystwyth


1895 Awarded Postmastership in Science,Merton College,Oxford


1896 - 98 Merton College,Oxford. Honours School of Natural Science (Class I)


1898 - 99 Private research in Oxford


1899 Unsuccessful application for Chair of Chemistry,Toronto


1900 - 03 Demonstrator,McGill University,Montreal


Work with Rutherford on Atomic Disentegration Theory


1901 Unsuccessful application for Chair of Chemistry,Aberystwyth


1903 - 04 Work with Ramsay,University College, London


Lecture tour to Australia


1903 Unsuccessful application for Fellowship,St. John's College,Oxford


1904 - 14 Lecturer in Physical Chemistry,Glasgow University


Work on Isotopes and Displacement Law


1908 Married Winifred Moller Beilby


1910 Fellow of the Royal Society


1912 Unsuccessful application for Waynflete Professorship of Chemistry, Oxford


1913 Cannizzaro Prize,Rome


1914 - 19 Professor of Chemistry,Aberdeen University


Work for Board of Invention and Research,and Ministry of Munitions of War


1919 - 36 Dr. Lee's Professor of Chemistry,Oxford


1921 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry


1934 LL.D.,Glasgow


1936 Death of Winifred Soddy


Resignation from Dr. Lee's Professorship of Chemistry


Work on mathematics

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