Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of KURT ALFRED GEORG MENDELSSOHN, FRS; (1906-1980)
|Title:||Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of KURT ALFRED GEORG MENDELSSOHN, FRS; (1906-1980)|
SECTION A BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, A.1 - A.13
SECTION B SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH, B.1 - B.137
B.1 - B.18 Low temperature research 1928-39
B.19 - B.43 Second World War
B.44 - B.114 Post-war research and teaching in Oxford
B.115 - B.137 Scientific and educational advisory work for other universities and institutions
SECTION C LECTURES AND BROADCASTS, C.1 - C.53
C.1 - C.33 Lectures and broadcasts on low temperatures
C.34 - C.53 Lectures and broadcasts on other subjects
SECTION D PUBLICATIONS, EDITORIAL ACTIVITIES, D.1 - D.134
D.1 - D.63 Books
D.64 - D.107 Editorial activities
D.108 - D.134 Shorter correspondence with publishers and editors
SECTION E CONFERENCES AND VISITS, E.1 - E.152
E.1 - E.86 International Cryogenic Engineering Conferences, 1968-78
E.87 - E.101 Institut de la Vie Conferences, 1966-77
E.102 - E 152 Other visits and conferences, 1960-76
SECTION F CHINA, F.1 - F.42
F.1, F.2 Visit to China, October 1971
F.3 - F.33 Talks, lectures, broadcasts, publications
F.34 - F.42 Correspondence
SECTION G PYRAMIDS, G.1 - G.77
G.1 - G.62 Drafts, lectures, publications
G.63 - G.77 Correspondence
SECTION H GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, H.1 - H.54
With an introductory note
SECTION J PHOTOGRAPHS, J.1- J.15
|Held by:||Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections, not available at The National Archives|
Kurt Alfred Georg Mendelssohn was born in Berlin in 1906. He attended the Goethe-Schule and Berlin University where he stayed on to do postgraduate research on low temperatures under his cousin, F.E. (later Sir Francis) Simon, receiving a D.Phil. in 1930. He remained at Berlin as a research assistant for a further year but in 1931 he followed Simon to Breslau where he had been appointed to the chair of Physical Chemistry at the Technische Hochschule.
While still at Berlin Mendelssohn had met F.A. Lindemann (later Lord Cherwell) who suggested that he should come to Oxford to carry out low temperature research at the Clarendon Laboratory, the intention being that he would begin work there in October 1933. In the meantime it was arranged that Mendelssohn should pay a brief visit to the Clarendon to instal a helium liquifier which he did in January 1933, thus becoming the first person to liquify helium in Britain. When Hitler came to power he decided to make an early return to Oxford and started work at the Clarendon in May 1933.
In the autumn of the same year Simon also came to Oxford, as did N. Kurti and H. London, all of whom contributed with Mendelssohn to the establishment of the Clarendon as an important centre of low temperature research. However, with the advent of the Second World War the low temperature apparatus had to be dismantled and Mendelssohn turned to various collaborative projects in medical physics (see CSAC 93.4.83/B.19 - CSAC 93.4.83/B.43). After the war he resumed his work on low temperatures in collaboration with a succession of gifted research students, many of whom built up graduate schools of their own after leaving the Clarendon, thus making their mark in low temperature centres all over the world.
In addition to his research work in the laboratory Mendelssohn was closely involved with other low temperature scientists at the international level. He was Chairman and founder member of the International Cryogenic Engineering Committee (CSAC 93.4.83/E.1 - CSAC 93.4.83/E.86), President of Commission A2 of the International Institute of Refrigeration (CSAC 93.4.83/H.20, CSAC 93.4.83/H.21) and founder and general editor of the journal Cryogenics. He published two books on low temperature physics and was very active as editor and contributor to other monographs and journals (see Section D). Through his contacts with foreign research students he also actively encouraged attempts to establish new centres for low temperature research, particularly in developing countries. Much of this is documented in Section B, including his efforts to establish formal links between Wolfson College, Oxford, and academic institutions in Ghana, India and Portugal.
In 1960 Mendelssohn paid his first visit to China and this laid the foundations of an abiding interest in the country and its scientific and cultural development which is documented in Section F. Section G deals with Mendelssohn's other main 'extra-mural' interest - the sociological and engineering background of the Egyptian and Mexican pyramids, on which he also published a book and several articles in both popular and learned journals.
|Conditions of access:||
NOT ALL THE MATERIAL IN THE COLLECTION IS YET AVAILABLE FOR CONSULTATION. ENQUIRIES SHOULD BE ADDRESSED IN THE FIRST INSTANCE TO:
THE KEEPER OF WESTERN MANUSCRIPTS, BODLEIAN LIBRARY, OXFORD.
Compiled by Jeannine Alton and Julia Latham-Jackson
The work of the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre, and the production of this catalogue, are made possible by the support of the following societies and institutions:
The Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland
The Biochemical Society
The British Pharmacological Society
The Charles Babbage Foundation for the History of Information Processing
The Institute of Physics
The Institution of Electrical Engineers
The Nuffield Foundation
The Physiological Society
The Royal Society of London
We are grateful to Mrs. Mendelssohn for making the papers available and to Professor D. Shoenberg FRS and Professor N. Kurti FRS for help and advice."
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