Guide to the Papers of Sir Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron of Nelson (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Ernest, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson and Cambridge
Papers of Sir Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron of Nelson
Date Range
1895 - 1939
Collection Number
6 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Correspondence, notes, laboratory notebooks, a notebook kept on his Australian tour in 1925, newspaper cuttings and photographs. Subjects include: scientific research in New Zealand; visits to Australia and New Zealand; Rutherford's biography; academic appointments; family news; and research and teaching.

Correspondents include Sir William Bragg, T.H. Laby, P.W. Burbidge, J. Cox, J.A. Erskine, E. Marsden, J.A. Pollock and members of the Rutherford Family in New Zealand.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1990 (AJCP Reel: M2400). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Cambridge University Library, Cambridge, England. For more information see Sir Ernest Rutherford at Cambridge University Library (

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Australia: visits to; Bragg, Sir William H.; Burbidge, P.W.; Cox, J.; Erskine, J.A.; Laby, T.H., Prof.; Marsden, Sir Ernest; New Zealand: visits to; Photographs: New Zealand; Physicists; Pollock, J.A.; Rutherford Family; Rutherford, Sir Ernest, 1st Baron; Universities; University of Cambridge


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 401, p155.

Biographical / Historical

Born in New Zealand. Professor of Physics, McGill University, Montreal 1898-1907; Professor and Director of Physical Laboratories, University of Manchester 1907-19; Cavendish Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge 1919-37. Awarded Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1908 for is work on radioactive elements and the "disintegration of the elements".

Item Descriptions

Series Part 1. Original Correspondence, 11 February 1890 - 30 December 1939

1 items

All letters are to Rutherford unless otherwise stated.

Correspondents include AW Bickerton, WH Bragg, CH Broad, JM Brown, PW Burbidge, John Cox, WG Duffield, Doris Duffield, JA Erskine, Clinton Coleridge Farr, DCH Florance, F Horton, JW Joynt, RD Kleeman, TH Laby, JPV Madsen, WS Marris, E Marsden, JA Pollock, JT Rutherford and Rutherford's parents and siblings.

(200 letters, 615pp.)

For a more detailed list see the available supplementary material.

Series Part II. Papers, 1894 - 1939


Programme card, Canterbury College Science Society (1p.)

Mark list for Honours Mathematics, Canterbury College (1p.)

Testimonials from Professor at Canterbury College. (3 documents, 5pp.)

Printed letter of application and testimonials supporting R's application for MacDonald Chair of Physics, McGill University, 1898.

R's pocket book from his Australian tour. (6pp.)

Autobiographical note written by R. (3pp.)

Letter from AE Pratt, Melbourne.

R's notes on WS Littlejohn. (6pp.)

Newspaper cuttings from Taranaki Herald.

Biographical items collected by AS Eve for his biography, Rutherford, Camb., 1939.

Letter from E Marsden, Wellington, to Eve

Notes on nomination of R. to a scholarship

Notes by R. on his visit to Australia and New Zealand, (16pp.)

Notes by R. on his return trip from Melbourne to England.

Photographs of R's family and associates.

Certificate of R's election as Hon. Member of New Zealand Institute for the Promotion of Science.

For a more detailed list see the available supplementary material.

Series Part III. Laboratory notebooks, 1893 - 11 April 1935

5 items

Lecture notes on biology and botany taken by R. as student, Canterbury College, 1893 (File NB1)

Also includes description of his first piece of postgraduate research entitled 'Experiments on secondary circuits'. (150pp.)

Series ADD. 8249.. Rutherford Papers. (Additional)

Letter from W MacGregor, Gov. House, Brisbane, 16 June 1913 (File Add 8249/7)

Re proposal that R. might be offered post at Univ. of Queensland. (4pp.)

Letter from brother, George, Buckland NZ, 26 December 1932 (File Add 8249/25-6)

Re family news. (1p.)

Letter from brother, Jim, New Plymouth, 11 April 1935 (File Add 8249/27)

Re family news. (2pp.)