Papers and correspondence of Sir Eric Keightley Rideal, 1890-1974

Scope and Content

The papers are not extensive. Very little survives of Rideal's early scientific career or of his public service. There are some speeches and writings which, although dating from his later years, contain reminiscences of his career and of the development of colloid and surface sciences.

Administrative / Biographical History

Rideal was born at Sydenham, the son of Samuel Rideal, a leading public analyst and consulting chemist. He was educated at Farnham Grammar School and Oundle School, entering Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1907 to read natural sciences. He graduated with a first class honours B.A. in 1910 and then went to study electrochemistry in Germany where he graduated Ph.D. Bonn in 1912. After two years electrochemical consultancy work with U.R. Evans and First World War service he began his academic career at Cambridge University in 1921, becoming Professor of Colloid Physics (later Colloid Science), 1930-1946. He was Fullerian Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Davy-Faraday Laboratory, Royal Institution, London, 1946-1949, and Professor of Physical Chemistry, King's College, London, 1950-1955. He served on many committees and was Chairman, Advisory Council on Scientific Research and Technical Development, Ministry of Supply. Rideal's scientific work ranged widely in physical chemistry including electrochemistry, chemisorption and catalysis, colloid and surface chemistry, and kinetics and spectroscopy. He was elected FRS in 1930 (Davy Medal 1951) and was knighted in 1951.


By section as follows: Articles, speeches and writings, Notes, drafts and working papers, Committees, conferences and organisations, Scientific correspondence. Index of correspondents.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to bona fide scholars by appointment with the Director of Collections, Royal Institution.

Other Finding Aids

Printed catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Sir Eric Keightley Rideal (1890-1974), CSAC catalogue no. 62/6/78, 9 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath.

Custodial History

Received for cataloguing in 1978 by the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists from Lady Oliver, daughter. Deposited in the Royal Institution in 1978.