Leeds University Library

The commemorative tablet


The tablet is inscribed:

Near this place in the old physics laboratory in the year 1913 William Henry Bragg, Cavendish Professor of Physics in this university from 1909 to 1915 and his son William Lawrence Bragg began their joint researches and established with the first X-ray spectrometer the nature of X-ray spectra and the principles of crystal analysis for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1915

It was on this occasion that Sir Lawrence Bragg presented the notebook to the University. In summary it records the measurements made by both Braggs using the X-ray spectrometer which was designed by William Henry Bragg and constructed in the Physics workshop in the winter of 1912-1913.

Some of the pages are dated and run (not wholly chronologically) from July 16th 1913 to September 22nd 1913 with one entry dated April 8th, [1913?] evening and another Jan 9th [1913 or 1914?]. Lawrence Bragg commenced work in his father's laboratory in the summer of 1913; hence the notebook covers the earliest period when the Braggs were developing the use of the X-ray spectrometer in the structural analysis of crystals.

The Bragg Archive is principally held at the Royal Institution in London where Lawrence Bragg was Director from 1954 until his retirement in 1966. In the archive there are two boxes which include research notebooks:

(Box 12) Research notebooks c1900-1930 relate to lectures, abstracts of literature and notes by Lawrence Bragg.

(Box 36) Letters of condolence to Lawrence Bragg on the death of William Henry Bragg, Mar-Jun 1942. Notebooks 1904-1913, relate to topics such as radioactivity and X-ray crystallography. Newspaper cuttings (6 volumes) 1913-1914.

It is perhaps appropriate that Sir Lawrence Bragg should have separated this one notebook from the rest of the archive. Presumably he regarded it as particularly important in recording (some of) the very earliest experimental data on X-ray diffraction and indeed the notebook belonged to the University as inscribed on its front cover. In this case its historical and scientific interest is very great as we shall attempt to show in the following sections.