Letters Additional of Sir Oliver Lodge

Scope and Content

Artificial collection of letters and other papers of and relating to Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge (1851-1940), physicist and Principal of the University of Birmingham.

Administrative / Biographical History

Oliver (Joseph) Lodge (1851-1940) was born in Penkull, Staffordshire in 1851, the eldest of eight sons and a daughter of Oliver Lodge of Wolstanton, Staffordshire and his wife, Grace (ne Heath). His siblings included Alfred Lodge (1854-1937), mathematician, Frank Lodge, Sir Richard Lodge (1855-1936), historian and Eleanor Constance Lodge (1869-1936), historian and principal of Westfield College, London. Oliver was educated at Newport Grammar School, Shropshire and University College, London and was awarded a DSc in 1877. He was appointed as Professor of Physics at the University College, Liverpool, 1881-1900 and then became Principal of Birmingham University, 1900-1919.

As a scientist, his research included the development of wireless and telegraphy and experiments on relative motion of matter and ether. His psychical research was also influential. He published extensively and his publications included The Ether of Space (1909); Making of Man (1924); Advancing Science (1931); Past Years, an autobiography (1931). He served as President of a range of societies including the Society for Psychical Research, 1901-1904 and 1932 and the British Association, 1913-1914. He received numerous awards including honorary degrees from British and other universities, he was a Farady Medallist and he was knighted in 1902. He died on 22 August 1940.

He married Mary Fanny Alexander (ne Marshall, d 1929) and they had six sons and six daughters. Oliver William Foster (1878-1955) was his eldest son and Raymond, who was killed during the First World War, was his youngest son.

References: Dictionary of National Biography 1931-1940 ( Oxford University Press, 1949 ). ; Oliver Lodge, Past Years. An Autobiography ( London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1931 ).

For further reading about the University of Birmingham see: Eric Ives, Diane Drummond, Leonard Schwarz The First Civic University: Birmingham 1880-1980 An Introductory History ( The University of University of Birmingham Press. 2000 ).


This collection is catalogued at item or file level and the individual documents are numbered in a single numerical sequence which reflects the order in which they were acquired. The items in this collection are mounted in fascicules.

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

The collection has accumulated from various sources.

Other Finding Aids

Please see online catalogue for further details

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department holds other related collections. These comprise the papers of Sir Oliver Lodge which includes his personal and family correspondence (GB 150 OJL). The official archives of the University of Birmingham also include the correspondence of Sir Oliver Lodge as Principal of the University of Birmingham, 1900-1919 [Location: Univ Coll 14/ii].

The Society for Psychical Research holds a large collection of Lodge's correspondence relating to his psychical research, 1884-1890; a typescript catalogue is available in the Special Collections Department for consultation.