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Churchill contains:
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ROBN The Papers of Sir Austin Robinson
ROBT The Papers of Sir Frank Roberts
ROCO The Papers of Sir Robert Cockburn
ROSE The Papers of Wickliffe Rose
ROSK The Papers of Stephen Roskill
RTBT The Papers of Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat
RTHM The Autobiography of Captain Hank Rotherham
RUKE "Illustrated Arctic News"
RUSM The Papers of Dame Enid Russell-Smith
RWHT The Papers of Robert White
RWLN The Papers of General Lord (Henry S) Rawlinson
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The Papers of Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat

Title The Papers of Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat
Reference GBR/0014/RTBT
Creator Rotblat, Sir Joseph, 1908-2005, Knight, physicist and peace campaigner
Covering Dates 1934–2005
Extent and Medium 490 archive boxes
Repository Churchill Archives Centre
Content and context

Joseph Rotblat was born in Warsaw, 4 November 1908, the son of Zygmunt Rotblat and Sonia (née Krajtman). He worked from the age of twelve, as an apprentice to an electrician, but studied at night and won a place to read Physics at the Free University of Poland. He married Tola Gryn in the 1930s (died 1942).

He was a research fellow at the Radiological Laboratory of the Scientific Society of Warsaw, from 1932, where he gained his PhD, 1938, and assistant director of the Atomic Physics Institute at the Free University of Poland, 1937-9. He joined the staff of Liverpool University, 1939, working with James Chadwick's research group on the early development of an atomic weapon, and then on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, March 1944. He decided to leave the project for ethical reasons, later in 1944, and returned to Liverpool University, where he resumed his work as a physicist and from where he received a PhD, in 1950. After the war, he discovered that his wife, Tola, who had been unable to escape from Poland, had died in Majdanek Concentration Camp, probably in 1942. He settled permanently in Britain and was joined by the surviving members of his family.

He began to campaign against atomic weapons: co-founding the Atomic Scientists' Association, 1946, and instigating the Atom Train, an exhibition that toured Britain, 1947-8, and later Europe and the Middle East. In 1949, he was appointed Professor of Medical Physics at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, where he worked until his retirement in 1976. His research focused on the application of nuclear physics to medicine and the effects of radiation on living organisms. He was editor-in-chief of "Physics in Medicine and Biology", 1960-72.

He continued to campaign against weapons of mass destruction and war and, in 1955, he was a signatory of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, which led to the first of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, 1957, named after the small town in Nova Scotia where the meeting took place. He became the moving spirit of the Pugwash organisation, co-ordinating and attending many of its meetings, which brought together scientists from around the world. He served in the following offices within the organisation: Secretary-General, 1957-73; Chairman of British Pugwash, 1978-88; and President of International Pugwash, 1988-97.

He and the Pugwash organisation were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, 1995. He was also awarded a CBE, 1965, and a knighthood, 1998.

He died on 31 August 2005.

His publications include: "Progress in Nuclear Physics" (1950); with James Chadwick, "Radio-activity and Radioactive Substances" (1953); "Atomic Energy, a Survey" (1954); "Atoms and the Universe" (1956); "Science and World Affairs" (1962); "Aspects of Medical Physics" (1966); "Pugwash, the First Ten Years" (1967); "Scientists in the Quest for Peace" (1972); "Nuclear Reactors: to Breed or Not to Breed" (1977); "Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapon Proliferation" (1979); "Nuclear Radiation in Warfare" (1981); "Scientists, the Arms Race and Disarmament" (1982); "The Arms Race at a Time of Decision" (1984); "Nuclear Strategy and World Security" (1985); "World Peace and the Developing Countries" (1986); "Strategic Defence and the Future of the Arms Race" (1987); "Coexistence, Co-operation and Common Security" (1988); "Verification of Arms Reductions" (1989); "Nuclear Proliferation: Technical and Economic Aspects" (1990); "Global Problems and Common Security" (1990); "Towards a Secure World in the 21st Century" (1991); "Striving for Peace, Security and Development in the World" (1992); "A Nuclear Weapon-Free World: Desirable? Feasible?" (1993); "A World at the Crossroads: New Conflicts, New Solutions" (1994); "Towards a War-Free World" (1995); "World Citizenship: Allegiance to Humanity" (1996); "Nuclear Weapons: the Road to Zero" (1998); "Eliminating the Causes of War" (2001); and with Robert Hinde, "War No More" (2003).

Papers comprising working papers, notebooks, correspondence, lectures and photographs.

The first tranche of papers, which has been transferred from the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, in Bath, comprises: papers relating to research, work at the University of Liverpool and St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, and involvement with societies and organisations.

The second major tranche of papers, including some material relating to the Pugwash conferences and symposia , was deposited in November 2012. Further Pugwash material was transferred in January 2014. The remainder of the collection is still being catalogued off-site and remains closed.

The papers were accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to Churchill Archives Centre, 2009.

March 2014: it is estimated that a further 499 boxes of the collection are still to be transferred to Churchill Archives Centre after cataloguing (134 boxes in RTBT 5, Pugwash and 365 for other sections).

Access and Use

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge. Churchill Archives Centre is open from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. A prior appointment and two forms of identification are required.

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Please cite as Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat, RTBT

Further information

Further information on Rotblat and his archive is available at www.josephrotblat.com.

Copies of the printed catalogue (including a partial index) are available at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, and the National Register of Archives, London.

This collection level description was created by Sophie Bridges, February 2009, using information from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Who's Who online and Wikipedia. Some sections of the papers (RTBT 2-4, 6 and 10) were catalogued by the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists and the first section of the papers was transferred, January 2009. Cataloguing of Pugwash materials (RTBT 5) is by Gillian Sheldrick at the Centre for Scientific Archives. This entry was updated by Andrew Riley in December 2012 and by Natalie Adams in January 2014.

Index Terms
Nuclear Disarmament
Nuclear Weapons
Rotblat, Sir Joseph (1908-2005) Knight, physicist and peace campaigner
Churchill/RTBT contains:
1 Personal papers. Not yet transferred to Churchill Archives Centre.
2 University of Liverpool papers. Important documentation of the post-War development of the Nuclear Physics Research Laboratory survives. There are Rotblat's notes and correspondence relating to the synchro-cyclotron building project: these cover costs, equipment specifications and building design. Progress reports, architects' plans and photographs are also included. A good record of his teaching is provided by a series of well-ordered manuscript notes for undergraduate lectures dating from 1939 to 1948. There are also some notes for 'radio teaching' and general correspondence and papers covering course planning, undergraduate examination results etc. A sizeable body of general correspondence survives from the second half of the 1940s; of exceptional interest is Rotblat's correspondence with Chadwick (February 1945-1949) which encompasses a wide range of topics and issues, professional, personal and political. The principal topic is the running of the laboratory and the re-construction work; others include the Nuclear Physics Sub-Committee and national atomic research, the state of Poland, Rotblat's family matters and his hopes for British citizenship. Further correspondence (1945-1950) is with the Ministry of Supply and the Atomic Energy Research Establishment and largely concerns equipment and staffing needs for photographic emulsion and cyclotron work.
9 archive boxes.
3 St Bartholomew's Hospital papers. The papers present a comprehensive record of Rotblat's career at the Medical College, covering his teaching and departmental roles as well as his wider participation in the University of London's educational policies. His teaching responsibilities are represented by a substantial quantity of manuscript lecture notes (for MB courses and postgraduate courses in physics and radiobiology), covering almost all his years at the Medical College. There is much material relating to the organisation and planning of courses and some papers concerning the Medical College's educational policy in the early 1960s. In addition, there are papers documenting his role as a University of London examiner and as an external examiner for PhD candidates at other institutions. Concerning the laboratory and project spheres of his work, the planning, implementation (in 1955) and use of the Linear Accelerator are covered extensively and papers relating to research grant applications, equipment and building development are also found. A separate group of papers documents the development of radiobiology at the Medical College from 1959 and the protracted deliberations over the future of the Radiobiology Unit. Rotblat's work for a number of Medical College and University of London committees and boards is well represented; there is also his correspondence with the Dean and the Secretary of the Medical College from periods in the 1960s and 1970s. . An unexpected find was a group of papers and correspondence of F.L. Hopwood, Rotblat's predecessor as Professor of Physics at Barts, which is included in this section. Among these papers are a 1916 notebook giving accounts of scientific experiments carried out by Hopwood and of general activities; drafts of scientific papers and lecture material; papers relating to a planned cyclotron and linear accelerator (1930s and 1940s); and brief correspondence with scientists such as J.J. Thomson, W.H. Bragg and E. Rutherford, 1926-1954.
27 archive boxes.
4 Nuclear physics and medical physics research. The material in this section has been presented in two distinct groups to reflect Rotblat's careers in nuclear and medical physics. Both of these groups are rich in manuscript experimental records and drafts of published work; the nuclear physics material, resulting from collaborations with many individuals, has a far greater quantity of scientific correspondence. The greater part of the nuclear physics papers date from his years at the University of Liverpool (1939-1949), though there are substantial post-Liverpool correspondence and papers on nuclear experiments up to 1960. World War Two and post-War work on the 'Tube Alloys' project forms a large component of the nuclear material and largely comprises experimental and theoretical notes, drafts of papers and correspondence. Notebooks date from 1937-c.1945; a few of these (from the late 1930s) and a small quantity of papers are in Polish and are from Rotblat's period at the Free University of Poland. A small group of papers survives from his 1944 work on the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos, New Mexico. Much of his post-War nuclear physics research centred on photographic emulsion techniques, involving collaboration with other laboratories such as those at the Universities of Bristol and Birmingham. His correspondents during these years include W.E. Burcham, O.R. Frisch, R.E. Peierls and C.F. Powell and there are also papers relating to the development of cyclotrons in the UK and the USA. For correspondence and papers covering the building of the cyclotron and the post-War development of the Nuclear Physics Research Laboratory at Liverpool, see Section B, 'University of Liverpool'. The medical physics papers are almost entirely the product of Rotblat's years as Professor of Physics at St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, 1950-1976; a small quantity relating to work with radioactive isotopes carried out at Liverpool is described under the title 'Early work (University of Liverpool)'. At the Medical College Rotblat, usually in collaboration with P.J. Lindop, made numerous important studies on the effects of radiation on living tissues, especially the 'life-shortening' experiments. The record of this work is provided by a large group of experimental notes, draft papers and calculations, with some notebooks and correspondence. This covers all periods of his career at the Medical College and extends into his retirement years. A small amount of material, chiefly concerning investigations of radiation exposure cases, also mostly dates from the period after his retirement. For papers relating to the Linear Accelerator programme see Section C, 'St Bartholomew's Hospital'.
26 archive boxes.
5 Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.
175 archive boxes.
6 Publications by Rotblat. Not yet transferred to Churchill Archives Centre.
7 Lectures and talks by Rotblat. This section of the Rotblat papers includes drafts, correspondence about lectures and illustrative material.
9 archive boxes.
8 Broadcasting. Not yet transferred to Churchill Archives Centre.
9 Visits and conferences (excluding Pugwash). Not yet transferred to Churchill Archives Centre.
10 Societies and organisations. This section presents a sequence of papers documenting Rotblat's involvement with a large number of societies and organisations, ranging over the diverse activities and interests that made up his life's work. Although there is naturally some overlap, these can be placed in the following broad subject areas: professional, scientific and medical; peace, anti-nuclear and humanitarian; scientific responsibility; education; and the environment. There is a strong international focus to the material which reflects his standing both as a scientist of distinction (in two branches of physics) and as a proponent of world peace and ethical uses of science. While there are 122 bodies in total listed below, the documentation for a fair proportion of these is not extensive. The outstanding group of papers covers the 13-year existence of the Atomic Scientists' Association of which Rotblat was the principal founder in 1946. There is a comprehensive record of the beginnings of the ASA and its various subsequent activities and business which encompassed lectures, publicity, publications, policy-making and administration. The correspondents include such prominent scientists as R.E. Peierls, N. Kurti, F.E. Simon, K. Lonsdale, O.R. Frisch and P.B. Moon. Many other organisations concerned with peace and anti-nuclear issues are represented; among them are the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, National Peace Council, Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, Campaign to Free Vanunu and Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. The presence of organisations such as Union of Concerned Scientists and Society for Social Responsibility in Science reflects his particular concern with moral issues in science. Rotblat's scientific career (chiefly medical physics) is covered by a number of organisations including Institute of Physics, Medical Research Council, British Institute of Radiology and Hospital Physicists Association. Radiation research and biophysics were the areas in which most of his commitments lay, and he was able to contribute his expertise in the effects of radiation to relevant committees and investigations, such as Greater London Area War Risk Study (GLAWARS) and the Windscale Public Enquiry (see Town and Country Planning Association). Relating specifically to his national role in nuclear physics research is an important group of papers documenting his participation in the Cabinet Advisory Committee on Atomic Energy (1944-1951). Polish scientific bodies include The Polish Academy of Sciences and Polish Society of Physicists Abroad. Rotblat's interests in higher education are chiefly represented by the University of Bradford, where he helped to establish a Chair of Peace Studies, and the Polytechnic of the South Bank.
46 archive boxes.
11 Correspondence. Was on short-term deposit at Churchill Archives Centre, but now unavailable pending cataloguing.
12 Miscellaneous. Not yet transferred to Churchill Archives Centre.

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