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The Papers of Rosalind Franklin

Reference Code: GBR/0014/FRKN

Scope and Contents

A lot of the material within the collection relates to Rosalind Franklin's work on the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Consisting of working papers, notebooks, reports and correspondence, this material is of considerable historical interest to those studying the discovery of the structure of DNA. There is also an extensive collection of papers relating to Franklin's work on the Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV), which took place at Birkbeck College in London. There are few papers relating to Franklin's work at the Laboratoire Centrale des Services Chimiques de l'Etat in Paris, where she used X-ray diffraction methods to study coals and chars.

In addition there are a number of photographs taken by Rosalind Franklin during her research, photographs of Franklin and others gathered for 'Life Story' (a dramatisation of the discovery of DNA), as well as papers relating to conferences, a large number of articles written and collected by Franklin, her undergraduate notes and articles written about Rosalind Franklin.


  • Creation: 1927 - 2017

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge. Rosalind Franklin's personal correspondence (reference: FRKN 9) is closed until 2034.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical / Historical

Rosalind Elsie Franklin was born in London 25 July 1920, the daughter of Ellis and Muriel Franklin. She was educated at St Paul's School, London. In 1941 she gained a BA in Physical Chemistry, at Newnham College, Cambridge. 1941-1942, she carried out research on the kinetics of polymerisation reaction at the Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Cambridge. This was followed by research on colloidal properties of coals and cokes at the British Coal Utilisation Research Association, 1942-1946. In 1945 she was awarded her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at Cambridge. From 1947 to 1951 she directed a research group in X-ray diffraction studies of carbons at the Laboratoire Central des Services Chemiques de l'Etat in Paris. At the invitation of John Randall built an X-ray diffraction laboratory at King's College, London to research with R G Gosling the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), 1951-1953 . At the invitation of J D Bernal Franklin directed research on X-ray diffraction studies of plant viruses particularly the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) at Birkbeck College, London, 1953-1958 . Rosalind Franklin died in London 20 March 1958.

Publications (List taken from FRKN 4/1): "Thermal expansion of coal and carbonised coals" (Trans. Faraday Soc.B,48, 289 -1946); "A study of the fine structure of carbonaceous materials by measurements of true and apparent densities, Part 1: Coals" (Trans. Farady Soc., 45, 274 -1949); "A study of the fine structure of carbonaceous material by measurements of true and apparent densities. Part 2: Carbonised coals" (Trans. Farady Soc. 45, 668 -1949); "A note on the true density, chemical compositon and structure of coals and carbonised coals" (Fuel, 27, 46 -1948); "A structural model for coal substance" (Fuel, 28, 231 -1949); "Note sur la structure colloidale des houilles carbonisees" (International Colloquium 'Reactions dans l'etat solide'. Paris, 1949); "On the structure of carbon" (J. Chimie Physique, 47, 573, 1950); "The influence of the bonding electrons on the scattering of X-rays by carbon" (Nature, 165, 71 -1950); "The interpretation of diffuse X-ray diagrams of carbon" (Acta Cryst. 3, 107 -1950); "A rapid approximate method for correcting low-angle scattering measurements for the influence of the finite height of the X-ray beam" (Acta Cryst. 3, 158 -1950); "Les carbones graphitisables et non-graphitisables" (Compte Rendues, 232, 232 -1951); "The structure of graphite carbons" (Acta Cryst. 4, 253 -1951); "Crystallite growth in graphitising and non-graphitising carbons" (Proc.Roy.Soc.A, 209, 196 -1951); "The a-dimension in graphite" (Acta Cryst. 4, 561, 1951); "Some aspects of the ultra-fine structure of coals and cokes", Lecture at Belgrade, 1952 (Bull. Soc. Chim. Yugosl. 18, 203, 1953); "Molecular configuration in sodium thymonucleate" (Nature, 171, 742, 1953); "Evidence for 2-chain helix in crystalline structure of sodium desoxyribonucleate" (Nature, 172, 156, 1953); "The structure of sodium thymonucleate fibres. I. The influence of water content" (Acta Cryst. 6, 678 ,1953); "The structure of sodium thymonucleate fibres. II. The cylindrically symmetrical Paterson function" (Acta Cryst. 6, 678, 1953); "Le role de l'eau dans la structure de l'acide graphitique" (J. Chim. Phys. 60, 1953); "Graphitising and non-graphitising carbons: their formation, structure and properties" (Brennstoff Chemie, 34, 359, 1953); "The structure of sodium thymonucleate fibres. III. The tree-dimensional Patterson function" (Acta Cryst. 8, 151, 1955); "Structure of tobacco mosaic virus" (Nature, 175, 379, 1955); "X-ray diffraction by an abnormal protein (B8) associated with tbacco mosaic virus" (Nature, 175, 1075, 1955); "Structural resemblance between Schram's repolymerised A-protein and tobacco mosaic virus" (Biochim.Biophys.Acta, 18, 313, 1955); "The splitting of layer lines in X-ray fibre diagrams of helical structures: Application to tobacco mosaic virus" (Acta Cryst. 8, 777, 1955); "X-ray diffraction studies of cucumber virus 4 and three strains of tobacco mosaic virus" (Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 19, 203, 1956); "The nature of the helical groove on the tobacco mosaic virus particle" (Biochim.Biophys.Acta, 19, 403-419, 1956); "Location of the ribonucleic acid in the tobacco msaic virus particle" (Nature, 177, 929, 1956); "Homogeneous and heterogeneous graphitisation of carbon" (Nature, 177, 239, 1956); "The helical arrangement of the protein sub-units in tobacco mosaic virus" (Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 21, 405, 1956); "X-ray diffraction studies of the structure and morphology of tobacco mosaic virus Ciba Foundation Symposium on the 'Nature of Viruses'" pp 39-52 Churchill, London, 1956; Summarized proceedings of a Conference on the structures of semi-crystalline and non-crystalline material London 1955 (Brit.J.Appl.Phys. 7, 385, 1956); "The reaggregation of the A-protein of tobacco mosaic virus" (Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 23, 199-201, 1957); "Structure of turnip yellow mosaic virus" (Nature, 179, 683-684 ,1957); "The structure of turnip yellow mosaic virus - X-ray diffraction studies" (Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 25, 242-252, 1957); "Changes in the structure of carbon during oxidation" (Nature, 180, 1190, 1957); "Changes in the structure of carbons during gaseous oxidation" (Industrial Carbon and Graphite, 1957) (Pub by Soc.Chem.Ind, 1958); "Tobacco mosaic virus: application of the method of isomorphous replacement to the determination of the helical parameters and radial density distribution" (Acta Cryst. 11, 213, 1958); "X-ray diffraction studies of the structure of the protein of tobacco mosaic virus" (Symposium on Protein Structure. Ed: A Neuberger. Methuen, London, 1957); "The radial density distribution in some strains of tobacco mosaic virus" (Virology, 6, 328-336, 1958); "Order-disorder transitions in structures containg helical molecules" (Disc. Faraday Soc. No 25, 1958); "On the structure of some ribonucleoprotein particles" (Disc. Farady Soc. No 25, 1958); "The crystal structure of Tipula Iridescent Virus as studied by the Bragg reflection of visible light" (Biochim.Biophys.Acta, 32, 203-219, 1959); "The structure of viruses as determined by X-ray diffraction" (In: Plant Pathology: Problems and Progress. Ed: Holton, Fischer, Fulton, Hart, p. University of Wisconsin Press, 1959); "Classification of carbons as graphitizing and non-graphitizing Contribution in the session on Coals, Cokes and Carbons" at the annual Autumn Conference of the X-ray Analysis Group of the Institute of Physics held in London on 18 and 19 November 1955 (Brit. J. Applied Physics 7, 385-394, 1956); "Ribonucleic acid in the TMV particle, Nucleic Acids and Nucleoproteins" (informal discussion of the Farady Society, November 1956); "Early work on Tobacco Mosaic Virus", Contribution in the session on Viruses and Nucleic Acids at the annual Autumn Conference of the X-ray Analysis Group of the Institute of Physics held in London on 16 and 17 November 1956 (Brit. J. Applied Physics 9, 1-12, 1958).


28 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


External Documents

Other Finding Aids

A copy of this catalogue is available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge and the National Register of Archives, London.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Mrs Jenifer Glynn deposited the scientific papers of her sister, Rosalind Franklin in the Churchill Archives Centre in 1992. She deposited a small American contacts address book and an article, in 2008, personal correspondence, in 2016, and a file of photographs, and article and talks about Rosalind Franklin in 2019.

Related Materials

Churchill Archives Centre also holds a small number of Francis Crick's papers, GBR/0014/MISC 90.

Related Materials

A selection of Rosalind Franklin's papers is available from the National Library of Medicine ( Vittorio Luzzati's correspondence with Rosalind Franklin is held at the Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique in Paris.


The original catalogue was compiled in 1995 by Moira MacKay and Jonathan Draper, based on box lists provided by the depositors. This was then used and updated by Louise King in May 2004, Sandra Marsh in July 2008, when a small new accession was added, and in October 2016, and Madelin Evans in Mar and May 2019 when two small new accessions were added. Date information added to several records by Natalie Adams, March 2012.

Date information

DateText: The main date range covered by the material is 1927-1976.


Franklin, Rosalind Elsie, 1920-1958, crystallographer

2004-05-05 14:14:39+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
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