The University of Liverpool Archives hold 7 notebooks dating from Ditchburn's undergraduate courses 1920-22 (NCUACS 6/5/88/D.367). See appendix.
The Manuscripts Department of Cambridge University Library possesses an early undated notebook recording experiments (Add. MS 8637).
The Admiralty Research Establishment holds a collection of papers relating to Ditchburn's wartime research there.
Mrs Ditchburn retains a little personal material.
The University of Liverpool archives holds seven notebooks compiled by Ditchburn while an undergraduate at the University 1920-22, and has provided the following listing which is reproduced here by permission.
Notebooks compiled by Professor Robert W. Ditchburn, F.R.S. whilst a student on the Practical course for the Honours B.Sc. in Physics, 1920-21, deposited by Professor Ditchburn (B.Sc. Maths and Physics 1920, B.Sc. Hons. in Physics 1922), 9 Summerfield Rise, Goring, Reading, RG8 ODS, 2 June 1986, and 13 June 1986, and 20 February 1987.
1. Professor Ditchburn entered the University in October 1919 at the age of 16 years, having attended Bootle Secondary School and obtained the Higher School Certificate (in Maths, Physics and Chemistry, with French as Subsidiary) in 1917. By permission of the Faculty of Science Professor Ditchburn was exempted from the Intermediate B.Sc. examination and was allowed to sit the Final Examination for the B.Sc. (Pass Degree) in Maths and Physics in June 1920, which he passed First Class. The degree of B.Sc. Honours in Physics was conferred on Professor Ditchburn in July 1922. During Session 1923-24 Professor Ditchburn was a registered external research student, working on 'the atomic nucleus'. During Sessions 1919-20 to 1921-22 inclusive Professor Ditchburn held a Bibby Scholarship (see The University of Liverpool Calendar 1919-20 p.431) and also a Pennington (Peace) Scholarship [awarded by Bootle County Borough Council].
2. Professor Ditchburn was successively Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy in Dublin University, 1929-46, and Professor of Physics at the University of Reading, 1946-68. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1962.
For fuller details see the entry for Professor Ditchburn in Who's Who 1986, p.471.
Professor Ditchburn contributed his Reminiscences (of his student career at Liverpool and Cambridge), as chapter one, to Rajkumari Williamson (ed.), The Making of Physicists (Adam Hilger, Bristol, 1987).
3. For a few more details about the Physics courses see the Faculty of Science Prospectus of Courses Session 1920-21. The University of Liverpool's Calendar 1920-21 indicates that, apart from Professor L.R. Wilberforce, the following were then the members of the academic staff of the Department of Physics: Mr. J. Rice (Senior Lecturer), Mr. R. Ablett and Mr. E. Edwards (Demonstrators and Junior Lecturers), and Mr. J.E. Crackston (Oliver Lodge Fellow). Professor Ditchburn believes that the Practical course which he took was supervised by Professor Wilberforce and Mr. Ablett. The notebooks provide no evidence of the names of the supervisors (who occasionally tick the results of the experiments) with the sole exception of Experiment No.11 which is ticked by J.E.C. [Crackston], 25 April 1921.
4. Professor Ditchburn thinks that he had about 10 lecture notebooks in all, but that he does not think there is any likelihood that he will locate further volumes.
5. NCUACS 6/5/88/D.367/7 was, with the agreement of Professor Ditchburn, transferred by the Keeper of Archives and Manuscripts, University of Reading, in February 1987. Professor Ditchburn deposited this volume with the Keeper on 21 June 1967 (ref. Acc. No.544) whilst he was Professor of Physics at the University of Reading.
6. The death of Professor Ditchburn was recorded in the 11 May 1987 issue of Precinct (University of Liverpool).
NCUACS 6/5/88/D.367/1-2 Notebooks (illustrated by diagrams, graphs, etc.) compiled by Professor Ditchburn whilst a student on the Practical course for the Honours B.Sc. in Physics, Session 1920-21:-
1. Notes on the method followed in writing up the results of the experiments, followed by notes on the experiments (the following brief details being taken from the list of contents of the volume):- (1 vol.)
1. Elasticity of a copper wire
4. Mutual Induction
5. Coefficient of Restitution
6. Newtons Rings
7. Cardinal Points
8. Surface Tension
9. Frequency of Fork
10. Low Resistance (a) Lord Rayleigh's method
(b) Lord Kelvin's method
11. Focal Length of Objectives Covers period from 12 Oct. 1920 up to 17 Feb. 1921.
2. Notes on experiments (the following brief details being taken from the list of contents of the volume):- (1 vol.)
12. Diffraction Phenomena
13. Fresnel's Biprism
14. Thermoelectric E.M.F.
15. Resistance of Electrolyte (Kohbrausch's method)
16. Capillary Electrometer
17. Hysteresis (Magnetometer)
18. Hysteresis (Ballistic)
19. Resolution of Telescope
20. Quarter Wave Plate
21. Convergent Light Polariscope
22. Conductivity of Metal Bar
24. Conductivity of Glass
25. Indices of Iceland Spar
27. Focal Line
28. Focal Planes and Principal Planes of a Ramsden Eyepiece
Covers period 21 Feb. 1921 onwards.
Loose in the volume: typescript (carbon copy) instructions for conducting an experiment to determine the velocity of light by measurement of the ratio of the electro-magnetic to the electro-static unit of capacity, n.d.
NCUACS 6/5/88/D.367/3 Notes on lectures given on Course F [Mathematical Physics] in the Department of Physics, 27 Oct. 1920, 3 Nov. 1920, and n.d. [Oct. and Nov. 1920]. (1 vol.)
Loose in the volume: two sheets of notes on [a] lecture given on the same course, 29 Nov. 1920.
Above the name of R.W. Ditchburn at the front of this volume appears the signature of 'Alex Irving'. Professor Ditchburn cannot recollect Mr. Irving but presumes that he must have given him a part-used notebook, the first few pages of this notebook having been cut out. [There appears to be no reference to Mr. Alex Irving as a student at the University: there is no Student Dossier for him and he does not appear in the lists of graduates given in the Calendars.]
NCUACS 6/5/88/D.367/4 Notes on lectures given on Course F [Mathematical Physics] in the Department of Physics, (1 vol.)
10 Dec. 1920 (sic) ('Tensors (cont.)' [continued from notes on undated lecture Tensors in NCUACS 6/5/88/D.367/3], 12 Oct. 1920, and 19 Nov. 1920.
Across a majority of the pages is written "Copied" indicating that a fair copy of the notes was later made.
These notes are written in a "Notes of Lectures. University of Liverpool" notebook bought from Philip, Son and Nephew, Ltd., University Booksellers, 3, Bedford Street, N., Liverpool.
NCUACS 6/5/88/D.367/5 Notes (a) on lectures "XXIII - XXIX" on Magnetism and Electromagnetism [probably given by Mr. James Rice, Senior Lecturer in Physics] (1 vol.) on pages paginated 1-201, the odd numbered pages only being used for these particular lectures.
(b) on lectures X - XXI on Magnetism and Electromagnetism on pages paginated 128-2, the even numbered pages only being used for these lectures (e.g. 128, 126, 124, etc.)
n.d. [? 1921-22]
Loose in the volume: notes on "reciprocal M. Lauberts for five point graphs" (1 sheet)
NCUACS 6/5/88/D.367/6 Notes on lectures [I] - IV and unnumbered on Electro-magnetic Theory, Dispersion, and Magneto-optics, [probably given by Mr. J. Rice subsequently to those in NCUACS 6/5/88/D.367/5] n.d. [? 1921-22] (1 vol.)
At the back of this volume (which is numbered "II") are:-
(a) Notes [on a lecture on] "some mathematical theorems", and
(b) Notes on Professor H.A. Lorentz's "Rede" Lecture on Maxwell's Electromagnetic Theory, delivered at Cambridge on 15 May 1923.
NCUACS 6/5/88/D.367/7 Notes on lectures given in the Department of Physics:- (1 vol.)
(a) (pp. 1-219, odd numbered pages only being used)
Electricmagnetic Theory lectures [I] - VI given by Mr. James Rice, [Senior lecturer in Physics]. 12 Jan. 1921 - n.d. [?Feb. 1921]
(b) (pp. 124-234, even numbered pages only being used; start at the other end of the volume to (a)).
Note on the Telegraphic Equation, n.d. [?Feb. 1921], followed by notes on lectures on Physical Optics,
4 march 1921 - 11 March 1921, and brief notes on Lecture X on Convergent Light, 17 March 1920.
These notes are written in a notebook on which the name and coat of arms of The University of Liverpool appear on the cover.