Fonds IN-13; 88-1 - H.E. Duckworth Papers

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H.E. Duckworth Papers

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  • Textual record

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Reference code

CA UWA IN-13; 88-1

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1945 - 1971 (Creation)
    Duckworth, H. E. (Henry Edmison)

Physical description area

Physical description

43 cm of textual records.

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Henry Duckworth was born in Brandon, Manitoba. He was the only child of a United Church minister. He graduated from Wesley College with a B.A. (1935), and the University of Manitoba with a B.Sc. (1936) and a Teaching Certificate (1937). Following three years of secondary and junior college teaching, he enrolled at the University of Chicago where he earned his Ph.D. in Physics in 1942. He undertook three years of war research with the National Research Council of Canada. He worked at the University of Manitoba (1945-1946), Wesleyan University (1946-1951) and McMaster University (1951-1965). In 1965 he became vice-president of the University of Manitoba, and then president of the University of Winnipeg (1971-1981). He was chancellor of the University of Manitoba (1981-1991). Dr. Duckworth gained international acclaim for his work in atomic energy, especially his work in mass spectroscopy. He was able to accurately predict the energies released in various nuclear transmutations. Dr. Duckworth died December 18, 2008.

Custodial history

The papers were likely donated to the University of Winnipeg Archives by the University's controller's office in 1987.

Scope and content

Henry Edmison Duckworth was an internationally renowned physicist, university administrator and physics professor. Duckworth was known for his groundbreaking study of atomic masses, as well as his discovery of platinum (the last stable isotope), and his authorship of the first definitive English language text on mass spectroscopy. Born in Brandon, Manitoba in 1915, he graduated from Wesley College in Winnipeg in 1935. He also graduated from the University of Manitoba, and the University of Chicago, where he received his PhD in Physics in 1942. In 1942 to 1945, Duckworth worked on defense research with the National Research Council of Canada, an organization that he continued to be heavily involved with after the war. Following the war, Duckworth briefly worked as an assistant professor of physics at the University of Manitoba, before becoming an associate professor at Wesleyan University in Connecticut where he worked from 1946 until 1951. From 1951 until 1965, Duckworth served as a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and became chair of its physics department in 1956. Duckworth was actively involved with numerous scientific research organizations, including the Canadian Association of Physicists, and he worked as the editor of the Canadian Journal of Physics. In 1965, Duckworth returned to the University of Manitoba as its Vice-President (Academic). From 1971 to 1981, Duckworth served as the President of the University of Winnipeg, before retiring and becoming a Professor Emeritus. From 1986 to 1992, he was the Chancellor of the University of Manitoba. He passed away in Winnipeg in 2008.

The papers are almost exclusively related to Duckworth’s work as a physicist. They are arranged into three series, including published works; professional correspondence and related documents; and physics notes, diagrams and secondary research sources. Series 1 contains drafts and published journal articles written by Duckworth from 1969 to 1971. The articles cover a range of physics related topics, including atomic mass, neutron separation, etc.

Series 2 contains eight sub-series, which includes correspondence and documents related to national scientific organizations 1970-1971; miscellaneous correspondence 1968-1971; correspondence and documents related to professional associations in Canada 1945, 1952-1964; correspondence with professional affiliations at American universities 1946-1950, 1955, 1960; correspondence with professional affiliations in Canada 1962-1965; correspondence related to Duckworth’s biography 1947-1950; miscellaneous correspondence while at Wesleyan University 1945-1952; and miscellaneous correspondence while at McMaster University 1952-1965.

Sub-series 1 contains executive meeting minutes and financial statements for the Royal Society of Canada, along with correspondence discussing a symposium and critics. It also contains correspondence with the National Research Council of Canada and its newsletters. As well as, research, policies, articles and correspondence related to the organization Manitoba Scientists to Combat Pollution. Sub-series 2 contains miscellaneous correspondence with a variety of scientific organizations, which primarily relate to his work as a physicist, and also included is a list of the past presidents of the Canadian Association of Physicists with a photograph from 1970. Sub-series 3 contains correspondence with the National Research Council of Canada, including discussion on the grant and scholarship program and Duckworth’s appointment. It also contains grant applications for the National Research Council, as well as, membership information, meeting minutes, and correspondence with the Canadian Association of Professional Physicists related to lecture tours and funding. Rounding out the sub-series is an article by L.E. Howlett about the future of physics in Canada, the report for A High Energy Laboratory for Canada 1957, and correspondence related to Physics in Canada. Sub-series 4 contains correspondence related to the Dempster-type mass spectrograph and the paper The Chemistry and Physics of Isotopes, which was presented at the Gordon Research Conferences. Sub-series 5 contains correspondence about the Chalk River meeting, A Proposal for the Cooperative Use of Major Facilities in Nuclear Science by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and Canadian Universities, and published articles, drafts and correspondence related to the development of a national science policy in Canada. Sub-series 6 contains correspondence with Who’s Who in Canada, and with United College in Winnipeg. Sub-series 7 contains correspondence from his time at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and almost exclusively relates to his work as a physicist. It includes reports on the Dempster Double-Focusing Mass Spectrograph, as well as correspondence related to physics equipment and laboratories, physics research and the exchange of samples between many universities, government agencies and private laboratories, as well as job references. Sub-series 8 contains his correspondence while at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario including physics research and exchange of samples with universities, research laboratories, and American and Canadian government agencies, as well as job references, and business related to the physics department at McMaster.
The third series is largely undated, but some records are from the early 1950s. This series includes Duckworth’s classroom notes and exams, physics diagrams, and secondary research including published journal articles.

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Immediate source of acquisition


While no notes on arrangement or archival interventions were made at the time of accessioning, the papers were likely arranged chronologically and by organization.

Language of material

  • English

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Restrictions on access

There are no restrictions on access.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Researchers are permitted to photocopy and publish in accordance with standard copyright procedures.

Finding aids

A hard copy finding aid is available in the Archives Reading Room.

Associated materials

Related records are held at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections (Henry E. Duckworth fonds).

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

August 1, 2012

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