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John Jenkin/Bragg Collection

William Henry Bragg and his elder son, (William) Lawrence Bragg, are two of the most important scientists to have been associated with the University of Adelaide.

William Bragg, a British mathematician and physicist, was Elder Professor of Mathematics and Experimental Physics in The University of Adelaide from 1886 to 1909, where he was notable for his teaching, research and public profile. After returning to the UK (to Leeds and London), William uniquely shared the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics with his elder son, Lawrence Bragg, “for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays”, and later pioneered the public understanding and sympathy for science at the Royal Institution of Great Britain (RiGB) and as President of the Royal Society of London.

Lawrence Bragg was born, raised and educated in Adelaide (Hon.BA, 1909), studied at the University of Cambridge, there discovered Bragg’s Law and pioneered the use of X-rays to determine crystal structures, shared with his father the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics, and later, at Manchester and then as Director of the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, promoted research to discover the structure of proteins (notably DNA), thereby pioneering the role of X-ray crystallography in ongoing medical research. He also led the RiGB to further enhance the public understanding of science.

John Jenkin was born, raised and educated in Adelaide (Hon.BSc, 1961) and at the ANU (PhD, 1964), and spent his mature academic career at La Trobe University in Melbourne, in both physics and the history and philosophy of science. Believing that the contributions of William and Lawrence Bragg were inadequately recognised, Jenkin undertook a detailed study of their lives and achievements, culminating in the publication of William and Lawrence Bragg, Father and Son: The most extraordinary collaboration in science (Oxford: OUP, 2008, 2011).

In the course of this research, Jenkin accumulated an extensive collection of around 130 books by the Braggs and about all aspects of their life and research which he donated to Rare Books & Special Collections in 2015.

Jenkin had already transferred to Library in 2010 his archival collection of the most extensive extant public and private records of the family.

John Jenkin
August 2017

Rare Books & Special Collections

The University of Adelaide
Rare Books & Special Collections
Level 1, Barr Smith Library
South Australia 5005


Phone: +61 8 8313 5224