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Current Exhibit at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives

Picture of Melanie Brown and Julie Gass setting up the new library display
"Physics in the Classroom," highlights an outstanding
collection of educational materials
from the classrooms of well-known physicists.

The Niels Bohr Library & Archives collects items many other institutions discard, such as student course notebooks and different editions of textbooks. These help historians to follow in detail, year by year, how new physics ideas are reworked and passed along to the graduate students who will soon rework them further. The collections are especially rich in documentation of the 20th-century revolution of atomic, nuclear and quantum physics.

The library reading room boasts a new exhibit, titled "Physics in the Classroom," which highlights our outstanding collection of educational materials, including textbooks, photographs, and student course notes and lecturers' notes from the classrooms of well-known physicists. How one generation passes knowledge to another is at the core of every discipline, but it's usually hard to trace. Textbooks are discarded when they're no longer current, and course notes are lost and forgotten. However, the Library has carefully collected successive editions of textbooks, lecture notes, and similar materials so that historians can use them to trace the evolution of physics theories, see how new discoveries were presented in the classroom, and witness the ideas being passed along to the students who will soon rework them further. The NBL&A collections are especially rich in documentation of the 20th-century revolution of atomic, nuclear, and quantum physics.

Picture of Melanie Brown and Julie Gass setting up the new library display
Archivist Melanie Brown (left) and Librarian
Julie Gass put the finishing touches on the
new exhibit in the Niels Bohr Library & Archives.

Archivist Melanie Brown (left) and Librarian Julie Gass put the finishing touches on the new exhibit in the Niels Bohr Library & Archives. Featured in the exhibit are a complete set of Arnold Sommerfeld's classic textbook, Atombau und Spectrallinien, revised many times between 1919 and 1944 to keep up with new discoveries in quantum physics; notes from Robert Millikan's lecture on electron theory at Caltech in 1919; notes from a quantum electrodynamics lecture by Richard Feynman during a University of Michigan Summer Symposium in 1949; and lecture notebooks on quantum mechanics lectures from 1947 by Enrico Fermi. Many other related books, collections, and photographs can be found in the Library & Archives. Please stop by the reading room to visit the exhibit and for help in locating these materials in our online catalogs.