Papers and correspondence of Henry Albert Howard Boot

Scope and Content

The papers contain laboratory notebooks and drawings associated with the design of the first cavity magnetron in 1939-1940, and further notes, drawings, blueprints, reports, correspondence and committee papers relating to its subsequent development. There are reports of research teams in various British and American universities, institutions and government departments, including those led by D.R. Hartree (q.v.) at Manchester University and E.C. Stoner (q.v.) at Leeds University. There are also a number of historical accounts of the development of the cavity magnetron.

Administrative / Biographical History

Boot was a physicist who made an outstanding contribution to the successful application of British science during the Second World War. Working with J.T. Randall in M.L.E. Oliphant's laboratory at Birmingham University, Boot produced the first 10 centimetre radar through the cavity magnetron. a discovery which had a profound impact on the waging of the war in several important spheres. In the Battle of the Atlantic centrimetric radar provided the Allies with a means of locating with accuracy, surfaced U-boats in any weather, day or night, and centrimetric radar was also decisive in the defeat of the German night bombers in 1943-1944 and in the improvement in the accuracy of the Allies' own night bombing. The cavity magnetron was built by Randall and Boot during the winter of 1939-1940 and developed by research teams in universities, institutions and government departments in Britain and the USA. Randall and Boot were awarded the Thomas Gray Memorial Prize of the Royal Society of Arts in 1943 for 'improving the safety of life at sea'. Further recognition followed with the award by the Royal Commission for Awards for Inventors in 1949, the John Price Wetherill Medal of the Franklin Institute, Pennsylvania in 1958 and the John Scott Award of the City of Philadelphia in 1959.


By section as follows: Historical accounts of the development of the magnetron, Laboratory notebooks, working notes, drawings and blueprints, Progress reports and minutes of meetings, Correspondence, Reports on research in other laboratories. Index of correspondents.

Access Information

Open access

Other Finding Aids

Printed catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Henry Albert Howard Boot, 1917-1983 by J. Alton and J. Latham-Jackson, CSAC no. 68/6/79, 21 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath

Separated Material

The original magnetron block was given by Boot to the Science Museum, London. Tapes and transcripts of interviews with Randall and Boot are held in the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, USA.

Custodial History

Received for cataloguing in 1977 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre from Boot. Placed in the National Archive for Electrical Science and Technology, Institution of Electrical Engineers, London in 1979.