Papers of Professor Max Born (1882-1970)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-309
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
      English, and German.
  • Physical Description
      1 box file; 1 wooden presentation box
  • Location
      Dk.7.50; E2007.09

Scope and Content

The papers at Dk.7.50 consist of the original manuscript in German of The restless universe, circa 1930.

At E2207.09 there is a chinar wood presentation box which was given to Professor Max Born from admirers and students at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, on 14 March 1936. The box is slightly damaged. It is decorated with floral carving and forest deer and tiger.

Administrative / Biographical History

Max Born was born in Wroclaw, Poland (which was then Breslau, Germany), on 11 December 1882. He was educated at the Gymnasium and at the University in his home city, and he also studied at the Universities of Heidelberg, Zuerich, Goettingen (where he obtained the degree of D.Phil.), and Cambridge. Prior to his arrival in Britain in 1933 when he fled the growing danger of racial and political persecution in Nazi Germany, Born had been Professor at the Universities of Berlin, Frankfurt-am-Main, and Goettingen. At Cambridge he held the post of Stokes Lecturer of Applied Mathematics. In 1936, he was appointed to the Chair of Natural Philosophy with special reference to Mathematical Physics at Edinburgh University. In 1939 he became a British subject. His work on Relativity and on various aspects of Atomic Structure had already earned him international renown and while at Edinburgh he continued to extend the literature of his science. Born retired in 1953, and in 1954 he was the joint winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics. With Walther Bothe (1891-1957) of the University of Heidelberg, Born had been awarded the Prize for the statistical formulation of the behaviour of subatomic particles. His studies of the wave function led to the replacement of the original quantum theory (which regarded electrons as particles) with an essentially mathematical description representing their observed behaviour more accurately. His publications include The constitution of matter, modern atomic and electron theories (Eng. tr. 1923), Einstein's theory of relativity (Eng. tr. 1924), The restless universe (1935), The natural philosophy of cause and chance (1949), Physics in my generation: a selection of papers (1956), and Recollections of Max Born (1965). Professor Max Born died in Goettingen on 5 January 1970.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

The chinar box was originally lodged with some deposited Born material but gifted to a member of Library staff and subsequently given back to the Library. Accession no: E2007.09.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Who's who 1968-1969. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1968. (2) University of Edinburgh journal. Vol.16. 1951-1953. p.205. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1953.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

Special Collections at Edinburgh University Library also holds letters from Born to Professor N. Kemp Smith from Bad Pyrmont, between 1951 and 1956, in the collection (Coll-1038) of Papers of Professor Norman Kemp Smith (1872-1958), at shelfmark Gen. 1416. The papers of Professor Norman Kemp Smith were received in November 1968, Accession no. E68.37.


Corporate Names