MS 36 Campbell Collection

MS 36/4/2/2 Photo of Albert Campbell

Special Collections is pleased to announce that a new manuscript collection, the Campbell Collection, is available for consultation.

This is a small collection of papers relating to Irish physicist Albert Campbell (1862-1953). Campbell was a pioneer in electrical science, especially in the fields of alternating current measurements and standards.

Campbell was born at Ballynagard House, near Derry. He was educated at Londonderry Academical Institution, Magee College, University of Edinburgh, Queen’s College Belfast and Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge where he read mathematics, physics and chemistry. After leaving Cambridge, Campbell served on the staff of the Faraday House Standardising, Testing and Training Institution. In 1901 he joined the Physics Department of the recently founded National Physical Laboratory, under Richard Glazebrook, its first director, who had previously been one of Campbell’s tutors at Cambridge. He established the department concerned with measurements of inductance and capacitance and related quantities. The main body of Campbell’s work, including his primary standard of mutual inductance (1907), was carried out at the NPL until he retired from its research laboratory in 1918. After his resignation, he returned to Derry where he continued his work in his own small laboratory, using homemade instruments. It was from here that he devised the absolute method of determination of the ohm, which was subsequently elaborated at the NPL.

Campbell was awarded the Duddell Medal of the Physical Society in 1925.

In 1926, after the death his mother, Campbell moved to Cambridge where he set up his laboratory afresh and continued his research.

In an obituary in the journal Nature, Professor L. Hartshorn wrote of Campbell:

Has any other man three absolute methods to his credit? … It is remarkable that, with one notable exception, none of the scientific honours that it is customary to shower on a man of his distinction seems to have come his way. He was a man of singular personal charm who showed the same interest in all his fellow workers from the boy in the workshop to the clerk in the office and the most eminent scientific men of his time.

Hartshorn, L. “Mr. Albert Campbell.” Nature vol. 173, 1954, pp. 471–472

Full details of what is contained in the collection can be found in the Campbell Collection listing.

The collection can be viewed by appointment to make an appointment please contact us.