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The Papers of Sir John Randall

Reference Code: GBR/0014/RNDL

Scope and Contents

Papers relating to the cavity magnetron and to biophysics, including lectures, articles, research notebooks, correspondence, press cuttings, drawings and photographs.


  • Creation: 1920 - 1983


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are 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 Turton Randall was born on 23 March 1905. He was educated at Manchester University. He married Doris Duckworth in 1928, with whom he had one son.

He began his career as a physics researcher at the General Electric Company Ltd (GEC), 1926-37. He was Warren Research Fellow of the Royal Society, 1937-43, and an honorary member of staff of Birmingham University, 1940-3. He carried out research on behalf of the Admiralty, 1939-43, and, with Henry Boot, discovered the cavity magnetron, which was central to the development of shortwave radar. He was a Lecturer in the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, 1943-4; Professor of Natural Philosophy, St Andrew's University, 1944-6; and Wheatstone Professor of Physics, 1946-61, and Professor of Biophysics, 1961-70, King's College, London. He was the first Director of the MRC Biophysics Research Unit (later the Randall Centre), King's College, London, 1947-70, where pioneering research into the structure of DNA was undertaken. He also served as Chairman of the School of Biological Sciences, King's College, London, 1963-9. He retired in Edinburgh, 1970, and continued to pursue research projects in the Zoology Department, Edinburgh University. He died on 16 June 1984.

He was awarded a knighthood, 1962. He was an Honorary Professor, Edinburgh University, and an Emeritus Professor of Biophysics, King's College, London.

His publications include: editor, "The Diffraction of X-rays by Amorphous Solids, Liquids and Gases" (1934); editor, "Nature and Structure of Collagen" (1953); and joint editor, "Progress in Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry" (1950-5).


19 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


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

The papers were deposited in Churchill Archives Centre by Sir John Randall, 1984.


This collection was catalogued by Sophie Bridges, March 2007. Biographical information was obtained from "Who's Who 1896-1997" and Sir John Randall's obituary in "The Times", 20 June 1984.


Randall, Sir John Turton, 1905-1984, Knight, biophysicist

2003-06-20 11:51:56+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