Papers of Sir Cyril Norman Hinshelwood, 1897-1967

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 117 Hinshelwood papers
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      3.86 linear feet

Scope and Content

The papers are not extensive and consist almost entirely of laboratory notebooks and working papers relating to his early work on molecular reactions and gas reactions, 1919-1938. There are also notes and reports of work on respirator design undertaken by Hinshelwood and his team for the Chemical Defence Board, Ministry of Supply, during the Second World War.

Administrative / Biographical History

Hinshelwood was born in London and educated at Westminster City School. He won a Brackenbury Scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford but was unable to take it up immediately because of the First World War and from 1916 to 1918 he worked at the Department of Explosives, Queensferry Road Ordnance Factory. In 1919 he went to Balliol to do the foreshortened postwar honours course in chemistry and he made his career in Oxford until his retirement in 1964. He was Fellow of Balliol, 1920-1921, Fellow and Tutor of Trinity College, 1921-1937, and Dr Lee's Professor of Chemistry and Fellow of Exeter College, 1937-1964, in succession to F. Soddy. He was Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College, London from 1964 until his death. Hinshelwood's scientific research was in chemical kinetics, and bacterial growth. He was President of the Chemical Society, 1946-1948, at the time of its centenary celebrations and President of the Royal Society, 1955-1960, his tenure including the Tercentenary Year. In addition to his wide participation in scientific life, he was a linguist with extensive interests in the arts, and in 1959 had the unique distinction of being at the same time President of the Royal Society and the Classical Association. Hinshelwood was elected FRS in 1929 (Bakerian Lecture 1946, Davy Medal 1942, Royal Medal 1947, Leverhulme Medal 1960, Copley Medal 1962) and in 1956 he shared with N.N. Semenov the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their researches into the mechanisms of chemical reactions. He was knighted in 1948 and appointed to the Orderof Merit in 1960.


By section as follows: Biographical, Laboratory notebooks and working papers, War work.

Access Information

Papers retain the period of confidentiality agreed at time of the deposit. All new deposits closed for 30 years except by permission of Officers of the Royal Society or the person controlling access.

Other Finding Aids

Printed catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Sir Cyril Norman Hinshelwood (1897-1967) by J. Alton and H. Weiskittel, CSAC catalogue no. 17/11/74, 7 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath.

Custodial History

Received for cataloguing in 1973 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre from the Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Oxford. Deposited in the Royal Society in 1974.

Related Material

Some of Hinshelwood's papers were accepted and listed by the Library of the Royal Society after his death in 1967. They consist of certificates and records of honours and awards, reprints of scientific and non-scientific writings, photographs and press-cuttings, and a box of uncatalogued manuscript material.