The papers cover the years 1916 - 1969 and were received from Mrs. Isobel Powell and the Department of Physics, Bristol University.
The first half of the collection contains 105 manuscript notebooks which fall into three distinct groups:
Items 6 - 23: Cambridge notebooks
These are a record of laboratory observations and notes taken by Powell as a Cambridge undergraduate on lectures by Rutherford, C.T.R. Wilson and others. Several of these notebooks contain drafts and notes of a much later date. (Items 18,20,22,23)
Items 24 - 75: Laboratory notebooks
These notebooks (dated 1939 - 1949) contain careful records of observations made by Professor Powell and various collaborators in the course of his experiments involving cosmic rays. Within this group:
Items 28 - 37 are a set of 10 notebooks arranged according to the numbered sequence on their spines, although this sequence is neither complete nor chronological by date.
Items 51 - 75 contain numerous notebooks labelled with a letter-number code, such as 'C.R.R.3' which may be assumed to read as follows: 'C.R.' is the abbreviation for 'Cosmic Rays', 'R' is the initial of the observer (in this instance 'Roberts') and the number is the chronological sequence of that particular observer's work. The several incomplete number sequences reveal that many notebooks of that period are missing.
Items 76 - 108: Working notebooks
This final set of notebooks contains a wide variety of material: notes for Professor Powell's own lectures at Bristol and for his research programmes, drafts of speeches and articles (both scientific and non-scientific), notes taken at conferences and on others' published work etc. As each notebook may contain 5 - 15 different sets of notes on a wide range of topics, the contents have been briefly summarized in the handlist when possible, but this description is not intended to provide a detailed 'table of contents' for each notebook.
The second half of the collection (Items 109 - 190) contains papers relating to Professor Powell's published work and speeches from 1947 to 1969. This material is arranged chronologically by date of speech or of publication and is composed of very rough manuscript notes, general outlines, manuscript drafts and typescripts (with Ms. annotations noted in the handlist). A final print is included if it varies significantly from the typescript. Occasionally an item will contain the later stages of a particular article or speech while the earlier rough manuscript notes and drafts are located in a notebook. These divisions of material have been cross-indexed when noted (e.g. Items 90 and 122).
Items 195 - 198 refer to 4 box-files containing Professor Powell's published work. See Item 195 for a note of missing items.
Except for a few letters dealing with publications (Items 123, 134, 140, 112 147, 171a, 189, 190), no personal or professional correspondence remains. Documents referring to Powell's activities for international organisations (CERN, Pugwash) were destroyed after his death.
The following taped speeches are held in the University of Bristol:
1) Professor Powell's recording of Rutherford's lecture at Gottingen, 14 December 1931
2) Speech to Bristol British Medical Association, 16 January 1963
3) Royal Society discussion on CERN, 21-22 February 1963
4) Tribute to Professor A.H. Tyndall at S.W. Branch Meeting of Institute of Physics at Royal Fort, 22 March 1963 (see Item 161)
5) Speech to CERN Council, 20 June 1963 (see Item 162)
6) Xe Anniversaire - Professors Weisskop and Powell, 30 October 1964