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Oliver Heaviside selected papers, 1874-1922, undated

Description of Collection


American Institute of Physics. Niels Bohr Library & Archives.

Papers created by

Heaviside, Oliver, 1850-1925

Size of collection

9 microfilm reels

Short description of collection

Notebooks, notes and correspondence of physicist and engineer, Oliver Heaviside.

Language(s) of collection


Collection number:


Biographical Note

Physicist (mathematical physics and electrical engineering). Telegraph operator, Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, 1870-1874; self-employed as physicist and electrical engineer from 1874.

Scope and Contents of Collection

Notebooks, notes and correspondence of physicist and engineer, Oliver Heaviside. The notebooks and notes (1874-1904) reflect the variety of Heaviside's interests, with topics including mathematics (series expansions and calculus), mechanics (wave propagation), and electromagnetism (electromagnetic theory). Included with the notebooks are corrected galley proofs of articles on electromagnetism and theory, and the preface to the collected edition of Heaviside's Electrical Papers. Professional correspondence (1897-1922) between Heaviside and his editors concerning publication, and with his colleagues on mathematical and electromagnetic topics. Correspondents include William E. Ayrton, Edwin H. Barton, William H. Bragg, Lord Kelvin (William Thomson), George F.C. Searle, John J. Thompson, and Silvanus P. Thompson.

Restrictions on Use and Access

Researchers must have an approved access application on file in order to access archival materials.

Selected Search Terms

These papers have been indexed in the International Catalog of Sources for History of Physics and Allied Sciences (ICOS) using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.


Ayrton, W. E. (William Edward), 1847-1908.
Bragg, William Henry, 1862-1942
Kelvin, William Thomson, Baron, 1824-1907
Searle, G. F. C. (George Frederick Charles), b. 1864.
Thompson, Silvanus Phillips, 1851-1916.
Thomson, J. J. (Joseph John), Sir, 1856-1940
barton, Edwin H.

Subject terms

Electromagnetic theory.
Fluid mechanics.

Genre terms

Laboratory notes.

Organization and Arrangement of Collection

This collection is organized into five series:

  • Series I: Letters
  • Series II: Notes
  • Series III: Notebooks
  • Series IV: Additional notes
  • Series V: Miscellaneous items

Provenance and Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. Jean K. Gossick, widow of Ben R. Gossick of the University of Kentucky, who acquired the films from the IEE for use in his historical research on Heaviside, 1978.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Melanie J. Mueller in 2013.

Preferred Citation of Collection

Box [number], Folder [number], Oliver Heaviside selected papers, 1874-1922, undated. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, College Park, MD 20740, USA.

Administrative Information


Finding Aid to the Oliver Heaviside selected papers, 1874-1922, undated


American Institute of Physics Niels Bohr Library & Archives

One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740


Encoding Information

Machine-readable finding aid encoded by Melanie J. Mueller in 2013. Any revisions made to this finding aid occurred as part of the editing and encoding process.

Series I: Letters

Reel 1: Letters, A-R, circa 1897-1922
Reel 2: Letters, S-Z, 1888-1919
Reel 2: Notebook, volume 18 (for other notebook volumes see reels 4-7), undated

Series II: Notes

Reel 3A (1-178): Loose pages of mathematical calculations, 1890-1893
Reel 3B (1-194): Calculations and notes on the reverse of page proofs of Electromagnetic Theory, volume 1, pages 73-459, undated
Reel 3C (1-69): Notes on the reverse of old invoices from Charles Heaviside's (brother) music firm, 1892-1893
Reel 3D (1-48): Random calculations of various dates from a box found at the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE), London, England, in October 1973, various dates

Series III: Notebooks

Notebooks cover a variety of topics. Most entries have subject headings but are rarely dated.

Reel 4, 1A: Notebook, 1881-1912
Reel 4, 2A: Notebook, 1883-1886
Reel 4, 3A: Annotated bibliography of Oliver Heaviside's papers, undated
Reel 5: Volumes 1-5, 1874-circa 1880
Reel 6: Volumes 6-11, 1885-1887
Reel 7: Volume 12, circa 1884-July 1889
Reel 7: Volume 13, circa 1880-1904
Reel 7: Volume 14, circa 1890s
Reel 7: Volume 15, 1895-undated
Reel 7: Volume 16, 1902-undated
Reel 7: Volume 17 (for notebook volume 18 see reel #2), circa 1902-1903

Series IV: Additional notes

There are 150 blank frames between Reel 8 number 1 and Reel 8 number 2.

Reel 8, number 1: Heaviside "alleged" volume 4, undated
Reel 8, number 2: Nature, volume 92, November 1913
Reel 8, number 3: Recently restored random notes, including some correspondence, circa 1886-1913
Reel 8, number 4: Volume 18, circa 1870

Series V: Miscellaneous items

Reel 9: Heaviside manuscripts found at Paignton, England (1957): Annotated galley proofs, drafts of articles, some correspondence (circa 1890s), spare proofs, preface to Electrical Papers Volume 1, random notes and calculations, various dates