Papers and correspondence of Sir Ernest Gordon Cox

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Comprises: Section A, Biographical, including shorter autobiographical and biographical accounts, significant material relating to his career, honours, and birthday celebrations, and photographs taken between 1927-1993 in the Leeds Chemistry Department, the Agricultural Research Council, and crystallographic conferences; Section B, Research, including notebooks, 1927-1946, an alphabetical sequence of topic folders with notes, data, reports, and photographs, and a record of wartime research on explosives; Section C, Second World War, including a record of his activities in the secret service and Belgian Resistance Group G with diaries and photographs; Section D, University of Leeds, including documentation of the Chemistry Department, research papers, and teaching materials for degree courses and postgraduate summer schools on crystallographic methods; Section E, Agricultural Research Council, including documentation of his Secretaryship, notes on index cards and in notebooks, 1961-1971, general correspondence and papers continuing until 1994, an alphabetical sequence of topic folders, and press cuttings for the period 1969-1972; Section F, Lectures and publications, including drafts of his public and invitation lectures, 1930s-1975, and offprints of his scientific papers, 1928-1986, with some record of his letters to the press and book reviews; Section G, Societies and organisations, including documentation of a small number of such bodies, notably the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Royal Institution, and the Royal Society; Section H, Visits and conferences, including some papers on early national and international crystallography meetings and a visit to Israel in May 1964 to examine the administration of agricultural research there; Section J, Correspondence, covering the period 1916-1996 arranged by him into alphabetical and chronological sequences, including 'Pre-War Scientific Correspondence', 'private correspondence ARC 1960-1971', and an untitled alphabetical sequence of many of his Leeds colleagues and leading figures in agricultural research.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Ernest Gordon Cox FRS (1906-1996), the chemical crystallographer and science administrator, was born on 24 April 1906 in Twerton, in Somerset, and educated at the City of Bath Secondary School and the University of Bristol, where he graduated with first class honours in physics in 1927. In the same year he joined W.H. Bragg's team in the Davy-Faraday Laboratory at the Royal Institution in London and began his career there as a practising crystallographer. In 1929 he was recruited to the staff of the Chemistry Department at Birmingham University, where he did pioneer work on the structures of sugars and compounds of metals. In 1936 he was awarded his D.Sc. by the University of Bristol and in 1941 was promoted to Reader in Chemical Crystallography at Birmingham. During the Second World War he led an advisory group on explosives for the Ministry of Supply and also worked for the secret service supporting resistance in occupied countries. In 1945 he was appointed as one of the Professors of Chemistry at the University of Leeds, where he built a strong Department of Inorganic and Structural Chemistry. He contributed to the wider running of the university and served on several national and international committees on crystallography. For many years he advised government on scientific matters as Secretary of the Agricultural Research Council, and, in retirement between 1971 and 1976, he served as honorary general secretary of the British Association and honorary treasurer to the Royal Institution. In 1929 he married Lucie Baker, by whom he had a daughter and a son. Lucie Cox died suddenly in 1962 and he later married Mary Rosaleen Truter in 1968. He was elected FRS in 1954 and knighted in 1964. He died on 23 June 1996.

Conditions Governing Access

Not all the material in this collection may yet be available for consultation. Enquiries should be addressed in the first instance to the Head of Special Collections, Brotherton Library, University of Leeds.

Acquisition Information

The papers were received from Professor Mary Truter, Lady Cox, his widow, in November 2000 (for cataloguing at the University of Bath), and transferred to Leeds University Library in November 2003.


In English.

Other Finding Aids

Described in detail in: Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Sir Ernest Gordon Cox FRS (1906-1996), chemical crystallographer and science administrator, compiled by Peter Harper and Timothy E. Powell, National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, University of Bath, 2003 (NCUACS catalogue no. 123/9/03).

Related Material

The papers and correspondence of Cox's son, Keith Gordon Cox, which are deposited in the Library, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and which were also catalogued by the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, University of Bath, 2001.