Ernest, Lord Rutherford: Letters to George Briggs

Scope and Content

13 letters from Rutherford concerning his and Briggs' work in nuclear physics, especially the velocity of -rays, and containing details about members of staff and the Cavendish Laboratory.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), Baron Rutherford of Nelson, was born in Nelson, New Zealand. In 1895 he came to England to be a research student under J.J. Thomson at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge. His first professorial appointment was at McGill University in Montreal, 1898-1907, where he and Frederick Soddy advanced the transformation theory, the interpretation of the phenomenon of radioactivity.

Rutherford returned to England to work at Manchester University, 1907-1919, where he succeeded Arthur Schuster as director of the physical laboratory. At the university Hans Geiger, a staff member, and Ernest Marsden, a student, performed the alpha particle scattering experiments that led Rutherford to formulate the concept of the nuclear atom in 1911. Shortly before leaving Manchester in 1919 for Cambridge, where he succeeded his own teacher, J.J. Thomson, Rutherford announced a major discovery, the artificial transformation of one element into another. This work was continued in the Cavendish Laboratory. From 1925 to 1930 Rutherford was also President of the Royal Society.

George Henry Briggs (1893-1987), physicist, worked in the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, 1925-1926.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Dr G.H. Briggs, 1982.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Summary Catalogue.

Related Material

Cambridge University Library has other correspondence and papers of Lord Rutherford, MSS.Add.7653 and 8249.