Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of CECIL FRANK POWELL, FRS (1903-1969)

This record is held by Bristol University Information Services: Special Collections

Details of Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of CECIL FRANK POWELL, FRS (1903-1969)
Title: Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of CECIL FRANK POWELL, FRS (1903-1969)
Reference: CSAC 12.6.74

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

Date: 1919 - 1972
Held by: Bristol University Information Services: Special Collections, not available at The National Archives

I. Biographical: 1 - 5


II. Cambridge notebooks: 6 - 23


III. Laboratory notebooks: 24 - 75


IV. Working notebooks: 76 - 108


V. Publications and speeches: 109 - 190


VI. Royal Society Expedition to Montserrat: 191 - 194


VII. Offprints and printed material: 195 - 198

Language: English
Extent: 7 series
Administrative History:

Summary of the career of Professor Powell


1903 b. Tonbridge, Kent


1911 Judd School, Tonbridge


1921 Entered Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge


1925 Research under C.T.R. Wilson


1928 Research assistant to Professor A.M. Tyndall, Bristol University


1931 - 46 Lecturer in Physics, Bristol University


1932 Married Isobel T. Artner


1935 Member of the Royal Society-Colonial Office expedition to Montserrat, British W. Indies


1946 - 48 Reader in Physics, Bristol University


1947 Charles Vernon Boys Prize of the Physical Society of London


1948 - 63 Melville Wills Professor of Physics, Bristol University


1949 Fellow of the Royal Society


1949 Hughes Medal of the Royal Society


1950 Nobel Prize for Physics


1952 - 54 President of Association of Scientific Workers


1956 - 69 President of World Federation of Scientific Workers


1952 - 57 Director of European expedition for making high altitude balloon fligh


1957 Bakerian Lecture, Royal Society


1958 Elected Foreign Member of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.


1960 Tercentenary Lecture, Royal Society


1961 Royal Medal, Royal Society


1961 - 63 Chairman of the Science Policy Committee of CERN


1964 - 69 Henry Overton Wills Professor of Physics, Director of H.H. Wills Physics Laboratory, Bristol


1964 - 67 Pro-Vice Chancellor of Bristol University


1965 - 68 Chairman of the Cosmic Ray Commission of IUPAP


1965 - 68 Member of Science Research Council and Chairman of Nuclear Physics Boa


1967 Lomonosov Gold Medal, Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.


1967 Chairman of the Pugwash Continuing Committee


1969 Guthrie Medal of the Institute of Physics and Physical Sciences


(Note: A full list of Professor Powell's honours and awards appears in the Royal Society Biographical Memoir, Item 1, p. 541.)

Creator Names:
  • Powell, Cecil Frank, 1903-1969, scientist and physicist

Compiled by Jeannine Alton and Harriot Weiskittel

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