Menu

Preliminary Guide to the Fritz London Papers, 1922 - 1994

Abstract

Fritz London, physicist and theoretical chemist, formulated the London equations of superconductivity with his brother, Heinz London. After fleeing Nazi Germany in 1933, London held appointments at Oxford and Paris, then at Duke University from 1939 to 1954. He specialized in low temperature physics and quantum chemistry, and authored Superfluids (1950) and numerous articles. The Fritz London Papers include correspondence, notes, manuscripts, reprints, and other materials, with bulk dates 1926-1954. The more than 300 correspondents include Walter Heitler, F.A. Lindemann, Max von Laue, Wolfgang Pauli, Michael Polyani, Erwin Schrödinger, Enrico Fermi, Edward Teller, and other noted scientists. Other materials include galleys and drafts of Superfluids, lab notebooks, course materials, notes, bound reprints. Materials acquired after London's death include interviews with Edith London; memorials; copies of correspondence held in other repositories; selected publications and interview transcripts; and indexes to London's scientific correspondence. English and German.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Fritz London papers
Creator
London, Fritz, 1900-1954
Extent
7.6 linear feet, 3,500 items
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult University Archives, Duke University.
Language
English and German.

Collection Overview

The Fritz London Papers include correspondence, notes, manuscripts, reprints, and other materials, with bulk dates 1926-1954. The more than 300 correspondents include Walter Heitler, F.A. Lindemann, Max von Laue, Wolfgang Pauli, Michael Polyani, Erwin Schrödinger, Enrico Fermi, Edward Teller, and other noted scientists. Major subjects include chemistry and theoretical physics, the Nazi regime and its effects on German scientists and academics, and London's emigration from Germany. Other materials include galleys and drafts of Superfluids, 30 lab notebooks, course materials, notes, bound reprints, and a manuscript on the significance of quantum theory for chemistry. Materials acquired after London's death include interviews with Mrs. London; memorials; copies of correspondence held in other repositories; indexes to London's scientific correspondence prepared by Kostas Gavroglou; a bound volume of notes written out by London from lectures given by Prof. Arnold Sommerfeld (1868-1951) at the University of Munich.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Contents of the Collection

Correspondence, 1926-1954 and undated

Includes professional letters and correspondence, with a significant portion in German. Earlier accessions of correspondence (Boxes 1-2) are organized chronologically, while later accessions of correspondence are organized alphabetically by correspondent. There is significant overlap between the two arrangement types, and both should be consulted. An index to the correspondence is available; please contact University Archives for more information. The more than 300 correspondents include Walter Heitler, F.A. Lindemann, Max von Laue, Wolfgang Pauli, Michael Polyani, Erwin Schrödinger, Enrico Fermi, Edward Teller, and other noted scientists.

Dec. 1926-1938
([15 folders])
Box 1
1939-1954 and undated
([10 folders])
Box 2
Translations of selected correspondence with Born, Casimir, and Von Laue
Box 2
Correspondence arranged by correspondent

Additional materials written by named correspondents also appear in Box 1 and 2.

Box 5-6, 11

Manuscripts and writings, 1922-1958, 1988-1994

Includes articles, lectures, reprints, and manuscript drafts written, and sometimes annotated, by London. Also included are writings of London's colleagues, as well as articles and interview about London's life and work, written after his death in 1954.

Superfluids, Vols. 1-2, circa 1950-1953
([7 folders])
Box 3
Untitled: Quantum theory and chemical bonds, circa 1930-1931
([2 folders])
Box 3
The Structure of the Atom in Chemical Bonding, 1930
Box 3
Theory of Relativity, circa 1931
Box 3
Theory of Metals, 1935
Box 6
On Supraconductivity, 1935
Box 6
Theory of Reduction, 1936
Box 6
Theory of Molecular Forces, 1936
Box 6
Lecture in Whitehead's Seminar, 1936
Box 6
1937 (in French)
Box 6
1938
Box 6
Math-Chem Seminar, 1940
Box 6
Undated
Box 6
Drafts
Box 6
Articles in German
([6 folders])
Box 7
Galley proof of Superfluids
Box 7
Articles, drafts, and notes
Box 11
Reprints of Published Articles, 1922-1953
([2 bound volumes])
Volume Tr. R. v.1-2
1943-1958 and undated
Box 3
Transcript of Edith London interview conducted by Steven Heims, 1988
Box 4
From Philosophy to Physics: The Work of Fritz London, lecture by Kostos Gavroglu, 1991
Box 4
Memoir of Fritz London by Edith London, 1994
Box 4

Course materials, 1928-1952 and undated

Includes lecture notes and formulas for courses taught by London. Some overlap may exist with the Writings and manuscripts series and the Notes series.

Chemical physics, 1940s and undated
Box 4
Electrodynamics, 1946-1947
Box 4
Thermodynamics, 1944-1945
Box 4
Mechanics, 1930-1931
Box 4
Quantum mechanics, 1928-1929
Box 4
Superfluids, 1952
Box 11

Notes, 1927-1948 and undated

Includes lab notebooks, note cards, and other notes relating to London's research, writing, and teaching.

1935-1948
Box 4
Electrodynamik
Box 4
Note cards
Box 7
Notebooks, Oct. 1927-July 1929
Box 8
Notebooks, Oct. 1929-June 1933
Box 9
Notebooks, Jan. 1934-Dec. 1942
Box 10

Audio and visual materials, 1987 and undated

Includes slides of manuscript pages and technical drawings, oversized drawings, and two sound recordings of oral history interviews related to London's life and work.

Oral history interviews require the creation of listening copies before use. Please contact Archives staff prior to visiting the Duke University Archives to access these materials.

Slides of manuscript pages and technical drawings
Box 7
Oversized drawings
Map-case 8
Electronic density of two hydrogen atoms with parallel spins
Box 7
Electronic density of two hydrogen atoms with antiparallel spin
Box 7
Oral history interviews with Edith London, Feb. 1987-June 1987
([10 cassette tapes])
Box 12
Interview with Marcus Hobbs, June 12, 1987
([1 cassette tape])
Box 12

Accession UA2010-0003, 1938-2008

1 box

This accession includes photocopies of correspondence between Laszlo Tisza and Fritz London, dating from 1938-1952, as well as interview transcripts of Tisza by Kostas Gavroglu (1987-1988), additional correspondence, and copies of selected publications. These materials were received from the MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections, which houses the originals in the Laszlo Tisza Papers (MC 676).

Correspondence from Tisza to London, 1938-1952
Box 13
Correspondence from London to Tisza, 1938-1952
Box 13
Correspondence between Tisza and R.R. Davis of Physics Today, 1950-1951
Box 13
Copies of articles from Nature, 1938, and The Electromagnetic Equations of the Supraconductor, by F. and H. London, from The Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, v. A149, 1935, p. 71-88 (from Supraconductivity, Selected Reprints, 1964)
Box 13
Physics Today, v. 11, n. 3, March 1958, p. 11-25
Box 13
Cooperative Phenomena, symposium in honor of the 80th birthday of Professor Herbert Froehlich, 1986
Box 13
Les Genies de la Science, Pour la Science, Edition Francaise de Scientific American, May-August 2004
Box 13
Qui a decouvert la superfluidite? Sebastien Balibar, circa 2001
Box 13
Correspondence, 1949-2001 (bulk 1949-1969)
Box 13
Correspondence, 1942-1991 (bulk 1942-1964)
Box 13
Correspondence between Tisza and Edith London, 1953-1974
Box 13
Transcript of oral history interview with Tisza by Kostas Gavroglu, 1988
Box 13
Transcripts of interviews with Tisza by Kostas Gavroglu, with edits, 1987-1988
Box 13
Conference on the History of Thermodynamics (Facts, Trends, Debates), 23-28 July 1990, Veszprem, Hungary, Abstracts of the Conference
Box 13
The Atom and the Apple, Sebastien Balibar, 2008 (copy of the title page and table of contents only)
Box 13

Historical Note

Fritz Wolfgang London was born in Breslau, Germany (Wrocjaw, Poland) in 1900, brother of Heinz London and son of a professor of mathematics in Bonn. He studied classics at the universities of Frankfurt and Munich and did research in philosophy leading to a doctorate at Bonn. Later he was attracted to theoretical physics and worked with Arnold Sommerfeld at Munich and Erwin Schrodinger at Zurich University in 1927, and published on the quantum theory of the chemical bond with Walter Heitler. In 1930 he calculated the non-polar component of forces between molecules, now called van der Waals or London forces. He and his brother fled from Germany in 1933 to Oxford where they joined Sir Francis Simon's group at the Clarendon Laboratory. Together they published major papers on conductivity giving the London equations (1935). Fritz moved to Duke University in the USA (1939-54) and continued to work on superconductivity and superfluidity.

[Biography from Chambers Biographical Dictionary, 1997]

Subject Headings

Related Material

  • The German and Jewish Intellectual Émigré Collection. (M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University at Albany, State University of New York.)

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Fritz London Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The Fritz London Papers were received by the University Archives as a gift in 1948-2005.

Processing Information

This collection is unprocessed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.

Accession UA2010-0003 is included in this finding aid.

Encoded by Jill Katte, March 2005

Updated by Meghan Lyon, March 2010