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Using the Collection
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At a Glance
This collection is comprised of the papers of noted physicist and historian Samuel Devons (1914-2006). It includes Devons's detailed analysis of his scientific findings, articles, essays, personal and professional correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia. Other subject files reflect his interest in film, Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Alessandro Volta, and promoting interactions among current and former university faculty during his academic tenure. The Devons Papers are arranged in four series.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Materials related to students or containing student grades are restricted for 75 years from date of creation.
All original copies of audio / moving image media are closed until reformatting.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Samuel Devons Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
2012.2013.M161: Source of acquisition--Ruth Devons. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--06/04/2013.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
The processing of this collection was made possible through the generous support of the Devons Family.
Papers processed Felecia Hunter, Columbia University School of the Arts 2016 06/2014.
Finding aid written Felecia Hunter, Columbia University School of the Arts 2016 06/2014.
Three unprocessed boxes found in the stacks were integrated into the collections, boxes 43-45. kws
2014-06-07 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Samuel Devons was a renowned nuclear physicist, academic, and historian. Born in Bangor, Great Britain, on September 30, 1914, Devons enrolled at Trinity College, Cambridge University at the age of 16. After graduating in 1935, he continued his studies there, earning a doctorate in 1939. During World War II, Devons served as a British intelligence officer in Germany working on defense projects before accepting a series of professorial appointments at Cambridge University, Imperial College, and the Universities of London and Manchester. In 1960, he moved to the United States to teach at Columbia University where he served as chairman of the Physics department from 1963-1967. An acclaimed scholar of physics, he specialized in the works of Franklin, Rabi, Volta, Rutherford, and Newton.
During the 1980s, Devons organized and served as president of the Joseph Priestley Society at Columbia. The group was created to promote collaborative interactions between high school science teachers and university faculty. Devons retired in 1984 but remained actively involved with the university, serving as Emeritus Professor and was widely recognized as the macebearer for its annual Commencement ceremonies. In the late 1990s, he founded the Emeritus Professors in Columbia (EPIC), which was devoted to fostering open dialogue and communication among current and former faculty members as an alternative to increasing administrative centralization.
Devons died of congestive heart failure at the age of 92 on December 6, 2006 in Manhattan.