Exhibition of Lodge material from the Cadbury Research Library now online

As the first workshop, ‘Civic Science: Oliver Lodge, Physics, and the Modern University’, we were lucky to be able to see some of the Lodge materials held at the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham. Lodge’s crucial role as the University’s first Principal meant that his time at Birmingham is well-documented is in the archives. Helen Fisher, an archivist at the Cadbury Research Library, gathered together a fascinating range of material from his time there. This has now been digitized, and is available to view via Flickr here.

There are some fascinating materials available to view ranging from Lodge’s application for his post as Chair of Experimental Physics at University College Liverpool (1881) to his letter of thanks for the car he was given on his retirement. The material digitized here is a significant resource in its own right, making available invaluable material for the study of Lodge, science, the development of British higher education, and the early history of Britain’s first campus university.

I’m still reading through all the documents, but my highlights so far include a reprint of Lodge’s article for The Electrician on ‘An Ideal Physical Laboratory for a College’; Poynting’s Physics syllabus; Lodge’s paper, required reading ahead of our second workshop, Wireless, ‘Telegraphy by Electric Waves Across Space’ (1898); his lectures ‘Heat and Energy’ (Staffordshire Iron and Steel Institute, 1901), and ‘Mind and Matter’ (Birmingham Town Hall, 1901); and his course at the Royal Institution intended ‘for a juvenile auditory’, ‘The Principles of the Electric Telegraph’ (1897). The letters from Margery Fry and J.H. Muirhead reveal Lodge’s support for both women students and lecturers and his speech to the Women’s Suffrage Society (1902) shows his support for the extension of the franchise to women. The photographs, too, are fascinating. Have a look at the photograph of the Academic Council and Staff (1901) and the official opening of the University (1909). Also intriguing are the set of images of Lodge (and Benjamin Davies, his assistant) working on his whirling machine to detect the ether at Liverpool. Finally, the photograph of Lodge at the University’s South Gate (1914) is worth a look, particularly for the rather smart gatekeeper.

I’d like to record our thanks to Helen Fisher and Sue Worrall from the Cadbury Research Library for all their help and support. You can find out more about the Cadbury Research Library here.

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