Papers and correspondence of Edmund John Bowen, 1898-1980

Scope and Content

The papers are not extensive. There are almost no records of Bowen's scientific work with the exception of reprints of his publications in the field of photochemistry, 1921-1963. There is some biographical and personal material including an autobiographical account of Bowen's childhood, service in the First World War and subsequent career to 1929. There is also material reflecting Bowen's keen interest in the history of science including reminiscences of Oxford chemistry between the wars.

Administrative / Biographical History

Bowen was born in the Parish of St John in Bedwardine, Worcester and educated at Worcester Royal Grammar School. He entered Balliol College, Oxford in 1915 and, apart from war service, spent the rest of his life at Oxford. At the end of 1916 he volunteered to train as a gunner officer and in 1917 was posted to France with a howitzer unit, seeing almost continuous war service until the Armistice. On demobilisation he returned to Balliol to complete his undergraduate studies, 1919-1920. In 1921 he was appointed to a Lecturership at University College where he was elected a Fellow and Praelector in Chemistry in 1922, a position he held until 1965, when he was elected an Honorary Fellow. He was University Demonstrator in Chemistry, 1938-1952, and Aldrichian Praelector in Chemistry, 1952-1965. Bowen was a pioneer in the study of photochemical reactions and a major contributor to knowledge of the production and quenching of fluorescence. He was elected FRS in 1935 (Davy Medal 1963).


By section as follows: Biographical and autobiographical, Historical writings. Index of correspondents.

Access Information

Access is (at normal times) available to any bona fide researcher by appointment. No confidentiality restrictions affect thiscollection.

Other Finding Aids

Printed Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Edmund John Bowen by J. Alton and J. Latham-Jackson, CSAC catalogue no. 81/5/81, 13 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath

Custodial History

Received for cataloguing in 1981 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre from Mrs E. Bowen, widow and Dr H.J.M. Bowen, son. Deposited in Museum of the History ofScience, Oxford in 1981.

Related Material

Papers deposited by Bowen in his lifetime:MS Museum 202: notes of laboratory work on photochemistry, early 1920s.MS Museum 88, 158 and 167: historical notes on the Royal Society, Balliol-Trinity Laboratories (Oxford), and Alembic Club (Oxford) respectively. The Museum also holds some of Bowen's scientific apparatus, including apparatus made by him.