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John Jenkin
Research papers on (George) Eric (Macdonnell) Jauncey (1888-1947)

MSS 0118


Biographical Note

The physicist, Eric Jauncey, was born in Norwood in South Australia and attended public schools until winning scholarships to Prince Alfred College where he completed the higher public examination in 1906 with outstanding results. He graduated from the University of Adelaide with a B.Sc. in 1910. Jauncey financed his tertiary education through a cadetship in the Physics laboratory and was taught mathematics and physics by Sir William Bragg.

From 1911-1912 Jauncey held a research bursary at Adelaide under Sir Kerr Grant and in 1912-1913 an Exhibition scholarship with Bragg at the University of Leeds in England where he studied x-ray absorption and scattering. From 1913 to 1918 Jauncey held positions as instructor in physics in various Canadian and American universities, and was refused a passport when he applied to return to Australia in 1917 because of pacifist comments he had made in private letters which were intercepted by censors. Jauncey was also forced to resign his American university position.

In 1920 he joined the Physics Department of Washington University, St Louis under Arthur Compton. Jauncey’s familiarity with W.H. Bragg's ideas prompted Compton to pursue his Nobel Prize winning quantum explanation of X-ray scattering.

Continuing to study X-rays and their interactions with matter, Jauncey was awarded a doctorate by the University of Adelaide in 1922 for some of this work. In 1926, having regained his passport in 1923, Jauncey returned briefly to Adelaide and lectured in Australia.

Jauncey was an excellent and dedicated teacher, the author of the widely used undergraduate text Modern Physics (1932, 1937, 1948) and nearly one hundred research papers, many in the premier American journal The Physical Review, of which he became an associate editor.

Jauncey died of chronic rheumatic heart disease on 19 May 1947 at St Louis, Missouri. Contributions to a memorial fund enabled Jauncey prizes in physics to be awarded at Washington University from 1948 to 1961.

(adapted from the Australian Dictionary of Biography)

These papers were donated by John Jenkin in August 2007.

Copying and publication

The University does not own copyright in these papers. Copying of individual items for researchers will be undertaken as far as is consistent with the provisions of the Australian Copyright Act 1968.


Contents Listing

Series 1: John Jenkin’s source materials on refusal of passport to Jauncey 1917-1923
4 cm.

  • Comprises copied source materials from the National Archives of Australia including:
  • Official government files on rejection of passport or visa for Jauncey and his family 1917; with copy of one of Jauncey’s letters cited by the Adelaide Censor of letters, Jauncey’s letter of protest to the British Consul at St Louis, Mo., 1917; and related correspondence
  • Official correspondence 1919 confirming the decision to refuse Jauncey entry to Australia until the Declaration of Peace
  • 1920 statement by Jauncey "Reasons why G.E.M. Jauncey should not be refused a passport to return to Australia" with related correspondence and testimonials
  • 1921 application from Sir Kerr Grant for permission for Jauncey to return to Australia, with related official correspondence and letters from Jauncey
  • 1922 application from Keith Jauncey and 1923 application from george Jauncey, with related correspondence
  • 1923 granting of readmission to Australia

Series 2: Australian Dictionary of Biography article on Jauncey  0.5 cm.
Annotated draft of article by John Jenkin and R. W. Home on Jauncey for the Australian Dictionary of Biography, with related correspondence 2002-2003 between Jenkin, Rod Home and Chris Cunneen relating to details of Jauncey’s marriage and death, and Jauncey’s difficulties with the Australian Government concerning his Pacifist views.

Series 3: "G.E.M. Jauncey and the Compton Effect"  0.5 cm.
Reprint "G.E.M. Jauncey and the Compton Effect" Physics in perspective 4 (2002) p. 320-332, relating to Jauncey’s probable influence on development of Arthur Holly Compton’s Nobel Prize winning quantum explanation of X-ray scattering, and the intellectual descent of ideas from W.H. Bragg through Jauncey to Compton. With related correspondence.

Cheryl Hoskin

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