Sources, Links, and Further Reading

Listed below are some of the best books and web sites regarding Ernest Rutherford's life and research. At the top are sources that are useful for his entire career and below that are sources especially useful for specific periods, organized according to the different sections of the web exhibit. If you have questions or comments, feel free to submit feedback.

Books to check out

E.N. da C. Andrade, Rutherford and the Nature of the Atom, Garden City, NY: Double Day & Co., 1964.

Lawrence Badash, Rutherford Correspondence Catalog, New York, NY: American Institute of Physics, 1974. This catalog is now available at, subsumed in the International Catalog of Sources.

John Campbell, Rutherford: Scientist Supreme, Christchurch, NZ: AAS Publications, 1999.

Brian Cathcart, The Fly in the Cathedral, New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004.

Barbara Lovett Cline, Men who Made a New Physics, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Per Dahl, From nuclear transmutation to nuclear fission, 1932–1939, Bristol UK and Philadelphia PA: Institute of Physics Publishing, 2002.

A.S. Eve, Rutherford: Being the Life and Letters of the Rt. Hon. Lord Rutherford, O.M., Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1939.

Peter Galison, Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics, Chicago, IL, and London, UK: University of Chicago Press, 1997. Much broader than a study of Rutherford, this book provides an illuminating perspective on atomic and nuclear research.

J.L. Heilbron, Ernest Rutherford and the Explosion of Atoms, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Basil Schonland, The Atomists (1805–1933), Oxford, UK: The Clarendon Press, 1968.

Thaddeus J. Trenn, Radioactivity and Atomic Theory, London, UK: Taylor and Francis, 1975. This book treats Frederick Soddy's career.

David Wilson, Rutherford: Simple Genius, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983.

Rutherford by those who knew Him: Being the First Five Rutherford Lectures of the Physical Society, London, UK: The Physical Society, 1954.

Web sites worth a visit
Section 1, Young Rutherford, 1871–1898: From Colonial New Zealand to Cambridge, England

Dong-Won Kim, Leadership and Creativity: A History of the Cavendish Laboratory, 1871–1919, Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002.

Section 2, Rutherford at McGill University, 1898–1907: Exploring Radioactivity

Mario Bunge and William R. Shea, eds., Rutherford and Physics at the Turn of the Century, New York, NY: Dawson and Science History Publications, 1979.

Marelene F. Rayner-Canham and Geoffrey W. Rayner-Canham, Harriet Brooks, Pioneer Nuclear Scientist, Montreal and Kingston, 1992.

Ernest Rutherford, Radio-Activity, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1904.

Ernest Rutherford, Radio-Activity, 2nd ed., Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1905.

Ernest Rutherford, Collected Papers, James Chadwick, ed., 3 vols. New York, NY: Interscience, 1962.

Thaddeus J. Trenn, The Self-Splitting Atom: The History of the Rutherford-Soddy Collaboration, London: Taylor and Francis, 1977.

Section 3, Rutherford at Manchester, 1907–1919: Alpha Particles and the Atom

Finn Aaserud and J.L. Heilbron, Love, Literature, and the Quantum Atom: Niels Bohr's Trilogy Revisited, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Ernest Rutherford, “Forty Years of Physics,” in Background to Modern Science, Joseph Needham and Walter Pagel, eds., New York, NY, and Cambridge, UK: MacMillan Company and Cambridge University Press, 1938, pp. 47–74. This posthumously published lecture was edited by John A. Ratcliffe.

Lawrence Badash, Rutherford and Boltwood: Letters on Radioactivity, New Haven, CT, and London, UK: Yale University Press, 1969.

J.B. Birks, ed., Rutherford at Manchester, London, UK: Heywood & Co., 1962.

Otto Hahn, Otto Hahn: My Life, the Autobiography of a Scientist, transl. Ernst Kaiser and Eithne Wilkins, New York, NY: Herder and Herder, 1970.

J.L. Heilbron, H.G.J. Moseley: The Life and Letters of an English Physicist, 1887–1915, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1974.

Jeff Hughes, “William Kay, Samuel Devons and memories of practice in Rutherford's Manchester laboratory,” Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 2008, 62:97–121.

Sebastian Korff, Das Geiger-Müller-Zählrohr: Eine wissenschaftshistorische Analyse mit der Replikationsmethode, NTM Journal of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, 2012, 20:271-308.

Walter Makower, The Radioactive Substances: Their Properties and Behaviour, London, UK: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, and Co., 1908. Makower worked under Rutherford at Manchester.

Arthur Schuster, Biographical Fragments, London, UK: Macmillan and Co., 1932.

Thaddeus J. Trenn, “The Geiger-Marsden Scattering Results and Rutherford's Atom, July 1912 to July 1913: The Shifting Significance of Scientific Evidence,” ISIS, 1974, 65:74–82.

Section 4, Rutherford back in Cambridge, 1919–1937: Atop the Physics Wave

J.G. Crowther, The Cavendish Laboratory, 1874–1974, New York, NY: Science History Publications, 1974.

Samuel Devons, “Recollections of Rutherford and the Cavendish,” Physics Today, December 1971, 39–45.

Kevin M. Downard, “Cavendish's Crocodile and Dark Horse: The Lives of Rutherford and Aston in Parallel,” Mass Spectrometry Reviews, 2007, 26:713–723.

Guy Hartcup and T.E. Allibone, Cockroft and the Atom, Bristol, UK: Adam Hilger, 1984.

John Hendry, ed., Cambridge Physics in the Thirties. Bristol: Adam Hilger Ltd., 1984. Nineteen researchers look back at their time in the Cavendish Lab in the 1930s. Hendry's introductory essays provide guiding historiographical reflections.

Steven B. Krivit, Lost History: Explorations in Nuclear Research, vol. 3, San Rafael, CA: Pacific Oaks Press, 2016.

Bernard Lovell, P.M.S. Blackett: A Biographical Memoir, London, UK: The Royal Society, 1976.

Mark Oliphant, Rutherford: Recollections of the Cambridge Days, New York, NY: Elsevier Publishing, 1972.

Section 5, Rutherford's Nuclear Family

Frederick George Mann, Lord Rutherford on the Golf Course, Cambridge, UK: Heffers Printers, 1976.