Personal papers of C.T.R. Wilson, principally working papers relating to his work on the cloud chamber and atmospheric physics, c 1890 - 1959. The collection includes original cloud chamber photographs taken by C.T.R. Wilson, slides, notebooks, and drafts, together with some biographical material, off-prints and journals.
Papers of C.T.R. Wilson
- This material is held at
- ReferenceGB 231 MS 3525
- Dates of Creationc 1890 - 1959
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish.
- Physical Description27 boxes No physical characteristics affecting use of collection
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Charles Thomas Rees Wilson is the only Scot to have won a Nobel Prize in Physics. Awarded for his work on the Wilson cloud chamber, which made the paths of electrically charged particles visible by condensation of vapour, he shared the 1927 prize with Arthur Holly Compton (1892 - 1962), the American physicist who discovered Compton recoil electrons, and used Wilson's chamber to prove the existence of the Compton effect. In 1924 he was awarded an honorary LL D from the University of Aberdeen, and during his lifetime received many other honours from the professional, scientific and academic bodies with which he was involved, including fellowship of the Royal Society in 1900.
He was born in Glencorse parish, near Edinburgh on 14 Feb 1869, but after the death of his father, c 1873, the family moved to Manchester, where he was educated at a private school in the city, and at Owen's College (now the University of Manchester). He gained an entrance scholarship to Cambridge in 1888 and graduated from Sidney Sussex College in 1892. He had begun studying biology, but during his time at Cambridge, possibly influenced by his early contact with C. Balfour Stewart at Owen's College, Manchester, had become interested in the physical sciences. In 1895 he was appointed James Clerk Maxwell Scholar at the Cavendish Laboratory, and in this year published his first work on the cloud chamber. During the following three years he continued to develop his work on the behaviour of ions as condensation nuclei, and the following year was appointed by the Meteorological Council to conduct research on atmospheric electricity. His research output was reduced from 1900 - 1918, when he was made Fellow of Sydney Sussex College, and appointed University lecturer and demonstrator, but by 1923 the cloud chamber was largely perfected and he published his 2 landmark, fully illustrated papers on the tracks of electrons. The technique devised by Wilson was adopted with great success, and developed further by scientists working in Britain and elsewhere, including Blackett and Kapitsa, in Cambridge; Irene Curie and Auger, in Paris; Bothe, Meitner and Phillipp, in Berlin; Skolbezyn, in Leningrad; and Kikuchi, in Tokyo. He remained at Sydney Sussex College for the rest of his working life, where he was appointed reader in Electrical Meteorology in 1918, and Jacksonian Professor of Natural History in 1925. After his retirement, he returned to Scotland, where he died at Carlops, Glencorse on 15 Nov 1959.
None observed - listing in process
Conditions Governing Access
Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet
Deposited in the University in Apr 1995, by C.T.R. Wilson's daughter, Miss Jessie Wilson.
Other Finding Aids
Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online http://www.abdn.ac.uk/diss/library/
Alternative Form Available
No copies known
Conditions Governing Use
Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.
Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.
This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures
The papers remained in C.T.R. Wilson's house in Carlops from his death in 1959 until their deposit in the University in 1995.
No accruals expected
No known publications using this material
This material is original