Ramsay Letters

Scope and Content

Photocopies of letters to Emil Fischer.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Ramsay studied at Glasgow University from 1866 to 1869. In 1870 he went to Heidelberg intending to study under R W von Bunsen, but early in 1871 moved to Rudolf Fittig's laboratory in Tbingen, where he was awarded a PhD for research on Toluic and nitro-toluic acids. In 1872 Ramsay returned to Glasgow as an Assistant in Young's laboratory of technical chemistry. In 1880 he became Professor of Chemistry at University College Bristol and in the following year he was made Principal of the Unversity. He married Margaret Buchanan in 1881. In 1887 Ramsay succeeded Alexander William Williamson in the Chair of General Chemistry, University College London, which he held until his retirement in 1912. Ramsay discovered argon in 1894, helium in 1895 and krypton, neon and xenon (with Morris W Travers) in 1898. In 1900 he visited India to report on the proposed Indian University of Research. He worked with Dr Frederick Soddy on radium in 1903 and with Robert Whytlaw-Gray on radon in 1909-1912.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from the Bancroft Library in January 1973.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.

Related Material

University College London Special Collections also holds papers of and relating to Sir William Ramsay, 1806-1961 (Ref: RAMSAY); 21 items of correspondence with Sir Oliver Lodge, 1885-1912 (Ref: MS ADD 89); letters concerning University College London business, 1887-1903, 1916 (Ref: COLLEGE CORRESPONDENCE); two letters to Lt F W Smith, 1915 (Ref: MS ADD 135); a letter to Silvanus Phillips Thompson, 1901, and one to Miss Williams, 1906 (Ref: MS MISC 4R); a letter to [Sir Henry?] Thompson asking for the loan of a quartz prism, 1899 (Ref: MS MISC 3R); a typescript song by Sir William [1928] (Ref: MS MISC 4C); a Swedish postage stamp, 1964, commemorating Ramsay and Pavlov as Nobel prizewinners in 1904 (Ref: COLLEGE EPHEMERA).

Location of Originals

Xeroxes of letters in the Fischer Papers in the Bancroft Library.