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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
KING'S COLLEGE LONDON: Department of Physics student records
Level of description
Series level descriptions of King's College London Archives
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
6 boxes


Name of creator(s)

King's College London Department of Physics

Administrative / Biographical history

Instruction in physics began in 1831 in the form of lectures in natural and experimental philosophy delivered to students in the Senior Department, from 1839 the Department of General Literature and Science and later the Department of Applied Sciences. Natural and experimental divisions were separated in 1834 when Charles Wheatstone was appointed Professor of Experimental Philosophy, a post he occupied until his death in 1875. Classes in natural philosophy were available to Evening Class students and students of the Medical Faculty and Faculty of Engineering, but the Physics Department properly became part of the Faculty of Science in 1893. In 1923 Physics became part of the Faculty of Natural Science, which later formed part of the Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. This became the School of Physical Sciences and Engineering in 1991. Charles Wheatstone, responsible for pioneering experiments in the fields of electric telegraphy, batteries, harmonics and optics, upon his death bequeathed an extensive collection of scientific instruments and equipment to the College to form the Wheatstone Laboratory, one of the earliest physical laboratories in the country. Other notables include James Clerk Maxwell, pioneer in the study of electromagnetism, who was Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1860-1865; Charles Glover Barkla, Wheatstone Professor of Physics, 1909-1914, who whilst at the University of Edinburgh was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1917 for work on X-rays; Sir Owen Richardson, Wheatstone Professor of Physics, 1914-1922, awarded a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1928 for prior work on thermionics undertaken at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge; Sir Edward Appleton, Wheatstone Professor of Physics, 1924-1936, who conducted experiments on the interaction of radio waves with the earth's atmosphere at the Strand and at the College's Halley Stewart Laboratories, Hampstead, for which he was subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1947, whilst employed by the British Government's Department of Scientific and Industrial Research; and Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins, Deputy Director of the Medical Research Council Biophysics Research Unit, later the Department of Biophysics, King's College London, 1955, whose work on the structure of the DNA molecule was rewarded with the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1962.

Content & structure

Scope and content

King's College London Department of Physics student record cards, 1935-1981 (Ref: KDPY/FP). Information typically contained includes basic biographical details: name, permanent address, nationality, date of birth, schooling, particulars of scholarships or exhibitions at King's, other funding, date of entering College, dates of taking exams, degree and class, and College activities. Some cards also include a photograph.

System of arrangement

Organised chronologically by year of graduation, then alphabetically.

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Subject to an eighty year closure period from date of leaving, but may be consulted by Departmental staff and other appropriate College members with permission from the Head of Department.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, can be supplied to Departmental staff. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Director of Archive Services, King's College London.

Language/scripts of material


Finding aids

Detailed lists are available for consultation in the King's College London Archives Reading Room.

Allied materials

Existence and location of originals

King's College London College Archives

Related units of description

King's College London Department of Physics Records (Refs: KDPY/F; 1984/KDPY; 1990/KDPY; 1998/KDPY); King's College London School of Physical Sciences and Engineering Records (Ref: K/SPSE).

Description control

Archivist's Note

Sources: King's College London catalogues. Compiled by Beverley Ager as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

Date(s) of descriptions

March 2002

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This catalogue may contain links to external data sources as part of the W3C Semantic Web initiative.


  • Educational evaluation
  • Educational levels
  • Examinations
  • Higher education
  • Higher education institutions
  • Photographs
  • Physics education
  • Science education
  • Student evaluation
  • Students
  • Universities
  • University students
  • Visual materials

Corporate names

  • King's College London College Archives
  • King's College London, Department of Physics

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