Skip to main content

Cambridge University Libraries are providing a blend of online and controlled in-person services. Please see our website for more details.

The Papers of Jack Ratcliffe

Reference Code: GBR/0014/RACL

Scope and Contents

Papers relating to physics, including articles, lectures, research notes and correspondence.
With biographical material, 1987-9.


  • 1920 - 1986


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

John Ashworth Ratcliffe was born in Bacup, Lancashire, 12 December 1902. He was educated at Bacup and Rawtenstall Secondary School, 1912-14; Heversham Grammar School, 1914-19; Giggleswick School, 1919-21; and Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, 1921-4. He married Nora Disley in 1930, with whom he had two daughters.

He carried out research into radio wave propagation in the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, 1924-7. He was a University Demonstrator (later Lecturer), 1927-47, and Reader in Physics, 1947-60, Cambridge University, where he headed the radio group at the Cavendish. He was a fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, 1927-60. He worked on the development of radar at the Telecommunications Research Establishment, 1939-45. He was Director of the Radio and Space Research Station, Slough, 1960-6. He was editor of the "Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics", 1965-76. He retired in Cambridge, 1966. He died on 25 October 1987.

He was awarded the OBE, 1947, and the CBE, 1959. He was an honorary fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, 1962-87.

His publications include: "The Physical Principles of Wireless" (1929); "The Magnetoionic Theory and its Applications to the Ionosphere" (1959); editor, "Physics of the Upper Atmosphere" (1960); "Sun, Earth and Radio" (1970); and "An Introduction to the Ionosphere and Magnetosphere" (1972).


32 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

A copy of this finding aid and a box list of the collection are available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, and the National Register of Archives, London.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were given to Churchill Archives Centre by Margaret Pollard and arrived in two main accessions (Acc 760 and 763), 1988-91. Correspondence and papers relating to a memoir were given by Kenneth Budden, 1989.


This collection (fonds) level description was prepared by Sophie Bridges at Churchill Archives Centre. The collection was box listed by Elizabeth Bennett and catalogued by Sophie Bridges, April 2010. Biographical information was obtained from "Who Was Who 1981-1990" (A and C Black) and K. G. Budden, "John Ashworth Ratcliffe 1902-1987" published in "Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society", volume 34 (1988).


Ratcliffe, John Ashworth, 1902-1987, physicist

2003-06-02 16:52:32+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