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The Papers of Sir John Edward Lennard-Jones

Reference Code: GBR/0014/LEJO

Scope and Contents

Personal and scientific papers


  • Creation: 1906 - 1955

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical / Historical

Lennard Jones was born John Edward Jones in October 1894 in Leigh, Lancashire. He was educated at Leigh Grammar School and at Manchester University, where he received a first-class honours degree in Mathematics in 1915. He then joined the Royal Flying Corps as a pilot and saw service in France during World War One. Afterwards he served as Experimental Officer at the Orford Ness armament experimental station and researched in aerodynamics with Boulton and Paul.

From 1919-22 he was a Lecturer in Mathematics at Manchester University. From 1922 he held a Senior 1851 Exhibition scholarship as at Trinity College, Cambridge. He received his PhD in 1924, became a Reader in Mathematical Physics at Bristol University in 1924, before working as Professor of Theoretical Physics at Bristol from 1927-32.

During 1929 he was the Rockefeller Fellow at the University of Göttingen where he studied quantum mechanics, before returning to University of Bristol as Dean of the Faculty of Science from 1930-32. In 1932 he elected as Plummer Professor of Theoretical Chemistry in the University of Cambridge, the first chair in this subject in the UK which he held until 1953. He built up a very successful school that specialized in applying quantum mechanics to the properties of molecules and of liquids and many of his pupils became leaders in this field.

After the outbreak of World War Two he worked closely from the University's Mathematical Laboratory with the external Ballistics Department of the Ordnance Board of the Ministry of Supply. In 1942 he was appointed Chief Superintendent of Armament Research. After the War he continued as Director-General of Scientific Research (Defence) in the Ministry of Supply in August 1945 and from 1946-53 was Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council, Ministry of Supply.

In the autumn of 1946, however, he returned to academic life and worked in his school of theoretical chemistry at Cambridge and seldom had fewer than fifteen research students working under his direction. Lennard-Jones was appointed Principal of the University College of North Staffordshire (later Keele University) in October 1953.

In 1925 he married Kathleen Mary Lennard and after his marriage he adopted the name Lennard-Jones. He was elected FRS in 1933, was appointed KBE and awarded the degree of ScD by the University of Cambridge in 1946. In 1948 and 1949 he was president of the Faraday Society and in 1953 he was awarded the Davy Medal of the Royal Society and the Hopkins Prize given by the Cambridge Philosophical Society. In 1954 he received the Longstaff medal of the Chemical Society.

He died on 1 November 1954.


4 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

This summary catalogue is available online at: Copies of a fuller catalogue prepared by the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists is also available at Churchill Archives Centre, at the National Register of Archives, London, and via the "A2A" [Access to Archives] website, see

Former/other reference

CSAC 2.73 (Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were received in 1973 from Dr. John Lennard-Jones, Sir John's son, who had already selected and arranged them in roughly chronological order for a possible biography of his father. This order has been preserved as far as possible.

Related Materials

A bound complete collection of Sir John's work is in the University Library, Keele.

A collection of lecture notes taken 1928 - 32 deposited by Professor C.A. Coulson in Cambridge University Library (Shelfmark: Add. 7807) includes careful notes of lectures given in Cambridge by Lennard-Jones.


This collection level description and summary catalogue was prepared by Andrew Riley of Churchill Archives Centre in August 2005. Biographical information was obtained from "Who's Who 1897-1996".


Jones, Sir John Edward Lennard-, 1894-1954, Knight, scientist

2005-08-08 11:32:31+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
+44 (0)1223 336087