Henry Lipson Papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers of Henry Lipson, physicist. The collection is small and mainly comprises copies of Lipson's lectures, as well as some printed ephemera, offprints and personal documents. The collection contains little directly related to Lipson's research work.

Probably the most interesting constituents of the collection are Lipson's lecture notes. Lipson lectured widely to a range of different audiences. His subjects included not only topics in physics, but also the relationships between science and politics and science and religion. In later life, he became a critic of Darwinian explanations of evolution, and spoke frequently on the topic. Also present in the collection are some printed offprints and copies of the handbooks of Cambridge Summer Schools in X-ray crystallography in 1945 and 1947 at which Lipson taught.

/1 Volume: University of Cambridge summer school on X-ray crystallography, September 1945 includes a detailed syllabus of lectures and demonstrations

/2 Volume University of Cambridge summer school on X-ray crystallography,1947, includes inserts which may not be related.

/3 Lipson's lecture notes. Lipson's did not usually compile full transcripts of his lectures, but used a series of manuscript notes as aide-memoires. Titles are those given by Lipson where identifiable. Some are undated and in some cases the event is not identifiable. 

  • "Symmetry", 16 Feb 1955
  • "Do you believe in atoms?"14 May 1959.
  • "Light waves", Christmas lecture, 29/30 December 1959.
  • "Science and values", St Helens, 11 April 1960.
  • "A scientist's belief", 7 February 1961
  • "Scientists' beliefs", Cambridge, 24 November 1961.
  • "Science as a liberal education", Preston, 15 January 1962
  • "Manchester's contribution to physics" 27 June 1962
  • "Light waves"British Association Aberdeen, 30 August 1963
  • "How scientific discoveries are made",Leicester Lit and Phil, 4 November 1963
  • "Peaceful uses of atomic energy", Holly Royde [Manchester], 11 November 1963.
  • Untitled talk, Sheffield, 21 January 1965
  • "Audio visual aids", Mathematical Association, 26 January 1965
  • "Physics", 29 June 1965
  • "Judaism in age of science and technology", Lancaster, 26 April 1966
  • "Physical optics of X-ray diffraction", Exeter, 4 November 1966
  • "Students", 1966
  • "Diffraction", 18 January 1967
  • "Some ideas on the teaching of physical optics", Durham, 2 October 1967
  • "Miracles", Jewish Society, 24 October 1967
  • "Influence of religion on country's development", Liverpool Jewish Society, 21 Oct 1968
  • "The social and industrial implications of physics", Haifa, April 1968
  • "New ideas in teaching of optics", Canterbury Physics Centre, 3 December 1968
  • "Character Recognition", Birmingham, 3 December 1970
  • "Radiographics", 5 June 1970
  • "Role of the physicist in society", Aberystwyth, 19 March 1971
  • Diffraction [illegible] 1970
  • "Reminiscences", Manchester, April 1971
  • "A scientist's view of Judaism" Young Paole Zion, 24 November 1971
  • "Israel - intruder or nucleus?' UMIST, 29 November 1971,
  • "The physicist in society", Portsmouth, 12 January 1972.
  • "Limit of resoln in electron microscopy", Salford, January 1972
  • "Investigation of atomic architecture", Leicester 17 Feb 1972
  • "Discovery of diffraction of X-rays by crystals", Physics teachers conference, April 6 1972, University of Manchester
  • "Indexing of powder photographs", Hull, 7 April 1972.
  • "The ultimate resolution of the electron microscope", Colloquium 18 October 1972
  • "Resolution of electron microscopes", Salford 10 January 1973
  • "Optical diffraction", York, 12 February 1975.
  • "The renaissance of optics", Liverpool, 17 November 1975
  • "Some reminiscences", Edgehill College, 16 July 1976
  • "Image Formation", Greygarth Hall, 25 March 1977
  • Textile physics group Owens Park April 18 1977
  • "How scientific discoveries are made", 25 Sept 1977
  • Applied Maths Colloquium 8 February 1978
  • "A scientist's religion", JACS [Jewish Adult Cultural Society], Mar 12 1978
  • Misc notes on biochemistry 1978
  • "Science and religion", JACS [Jewish Adult Cultural Society], January 14 1979
  • "Modern creationism", Cambridge, 29 January 1982
  • "A physicist looks at Darwin's theory of evolution", Cardiff, 17 March 1982
  • "Objectives of crystallography", 17 March1982
  • "Is Darwin's theory correct?", Leeds, 8 November 1984.
  • "What is a physicist?"n.d. [Lipson published an article of the same name in the Bulletin of Institute of Physics 10, 1959}
  • "What is electricity", Manchester Association of engineers, 12 Nov [n.y.]
  • "Science and politics"n.d.
  • "India - land of problems"
  • "Russia" n.d.
  • "Some landmarks in crystal structure methods"
  • "How quantum theory became respectable" n.d.
  • "Interdependence of Scientists" n.d.
  • "Reflections on developments in X ray diffraction" n.d.
  • "Creation of a fantasy", n.d.
  • Reminiscences of optics" n.d.
  • "Some landmarks in crystal-structure method" n.d.
  • Misc notes on Darwin, n.d.
  • "The scientific revolution of the twentieth century", manuscript and more detailed typescript [1960s?]

/4 Letters of congratulation relating to Lipson's election to Fellowship of the Royal Society. March 1957. Correspondents include Kathleen Lonsdale, Patrick Blackett, John Cockcroft, Lawrence Bragg, John Stopford, Dorothy Hodgkin, Vivian Bowden and John Wilson; includes some copy replies.

/5 Fellowship of Royal Society. List of signatures from departmental staff honouring the award of FRS to Henry Lipson. 21 Mar 1957. Bound volume. Signed menu of Lunch held in honour of Lipson by the UMIST Students Union. 5 April 1957. Bound volume.

/6 Folder: letters of congratulation on Lipson's award of CBE, 1976: Correspondents include: Joseph Black, Lord Bowden, Neville Smith, Edward Parkes, Robert Haszeldine, Sir Montague Finniston, Charles Taylor, Sir Bernard Lovell, Sir Sam Edwards, and Laurie Sapper.

/7 Folder containing three typescript chapters of what appears to be a popular work on physics. This could be Lipson's The great experiments in Physics (1968).

/8 Folder: "Half a century of physics in Manchester"; this was Lipson's Lit and Phil presidential address 23 October 1978, which he revised for publication in the Society's Memoirs [published in vol 87 1982]. It includes a letter from Donald Cardwell 16 January 1980 commenting on his draft.

/9 Programme for Coloquio de determinacion de estrcturas cristalina, Madrid April 1953, signed by some attendees and enclosed is a photograph of Lipson and some other participants (not identified).

/10 Programme for 50th anniversary of Lawrence Bragg Nobel Prize, Royal Society, 15 Oct 1965.

/11 Folder: Ms notes for a course of lectures delivered by Lipson at the University of Minnesota in 1970, includes a covering letter from the University inviting him to deliver the lectures.

/12 Folder: Lipson's retirement from UMIST: menu card, Senior Union dinner , UMIST newsletter Aug 1977, and the resolution of the University Senate and Council recording thanks, 22 November 1977.

/13 Folder: offprints. H Lipson and C A Beevers, "The Crystal structure of the alums", Proceeding of Royal Society February 1935; Henry Lipson and Arnold Beevers,"An improved numerical method of two-dimensional Fourier synthesis for crystals" Proceedings of the Physical Society 1936; W L Bragg and Henry Lipson, "The employment of contoured graphs of structure-factor in crystal analysis"Z Kristallogr 96, 1936; H Lipson and A Taylor "Defect lattices in some ternary alloys"Proceeding of Royal Society November 1939; "The changing face of physics" (photocopy) n.d.; "Fourier synthesis by topical interference"Nature 28 July 1951 ( photocopy); Lipson, essay review "Lord Rutherford in Manchester"Science Progress October 1964; "Faculty of Technology, University of Manchester " repr Bulletin of the Institute of Physics and the Physical Society November 1965; A W Hanson, C A Taylor, H Lipson "Patterson and copper sulfate pentahydrate" from Patterson and Pattersons: fifty years of the Patterson function (Oxford University Pres 1987) (photocopy).

/14 Folder: Lipson's autobiographical notes of Fellows of the Royal Society. Includes different versions compiled by Lipson detailing his life and work [Lipson's Biographical memo was written by M M Wolfson and published in 1994].

/15 Folder of photos and cuttings; some photos of Lipson lecturing, the cuttings relate to his appointment as professor.

/16 Folder family material including cards from children and grandparents. And a letter from Mrs Lipson to Ann Lipson, 24 March 1990 discussing plans.

/17 Envelope of photos including family shots, departmental groups and Lipson at work.

/18 Folder: Lipson obituaries: offprint Manchester Memoirs vol 130, Independent 3 May 1991, UMIST Times May 1991, Acta Crystallograhica, 1991, Guardian 30 April 1991 (photocopy), Daily Telegraph 7 May 1991 (photocopy), Times 3 May 1991 (photocopy), Physics World 1991 (photocopy).

/19 Slide rule used by Henry Lipson.

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Solomon Lipson (1910-1991) was a physicist, best known for his work in X-ray crystallography. He was for many years professor of physics at UMIST, where he established the department as a significant centre for research.

Lipson was born in 1910, the son of a steelworker, and he grew up in Shotton, Flintshire. He was educated at Hawarden County School, and the University of Liverpool, where he studied physics. On graduating, he undertook research on X-ray crystallography. Working with fellow researcher Arnold Beevers, Lipson devised a computational method to aid calculation of Fourier transforms of crystallographic data; these were known as Lipson-Beevers strips and were widely used before digital computing took over this task. In 1936, he moved to the University of Manchester to work with Lawrence Bragg, who had advised him on his work at Liverpool. Lipson followed Bragg to the National Physical Laboratory in 1937, and to Cambridge in 1939, when Bragg was appointed to a chair there.

In 1945, Lipson was appointed head of the department of physics at the Manchester Municipal College of Technology, where he was to remain for the rest of his career (it became UMIST in 1965). Physics had been seen as essentially a service department at the College, but Lipson worked hard to make it an independent and respected department; he introduced an undergraduate degree in applied physics in 1951, and developed research strengths in X-ray crystallography. In recognition, he was promoted to a chair in physics in 1954. In this period, his own research interests moved more to optical physics, particularly optical diffraction. Lipson promoted this area effectively, and managed to establish ophthalmic optics (previously part of the physics department) as a successful independent department. Lipson was Dean of the Faculty of Technology in 1975/6. He retired from UMIST in 1977.

Lipson was elected FRS in 1957 and appointed CBE in 1976. He was for a time editor of Acta Crystallographica. Lipson was a prolific lecturer, and was interested in the wider connections between science and politics and religion. He was convenor of the Manchester section of Scientists against Nuclear Arms, as well as being a member of Pugwash and CND . Lipson was chairman of the Academic Committee for Soviet Jewry and an active member of the South Manchester Synagogue. Lipson was also twice president of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, In 1937, Lipson married Jane Rosenthal in 1937. They had three children, one of whom predeceased Lipson. Lipson died in 1991, while visiting family in Israel.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated to the Library by the Lipson family following his death. It was formally accessioned in 2010 (acc.2010/14).

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Appraisal Information

Collection has not been appraised.


None expected

Related Material

Lawrence Bragg's papers which include some letters from Lipson are held by the Royal Institution.

The Library has custody of a Lipson-Beevers strip, donated by Arnold Beevers in 1998.

Geographical Names