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Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920-1958) was a British chemist and crystallographer who is best known for her role in the discovery of the structure of DNA. It was her x-ray diffraction photos of DNA and her analysis of that data--provided to Francis Crick and James Watson without her knowledge--that gave them clues crucial to building their correct theoretical model of the molecule in 1953. While best known for this work, Franklin also did important research into the micro-structure and properties of coals and other carbons, and spent the last five years of her career elucidating the structure of plant viruses, notably tobacco mosaic virus.
The Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge, England is the repository for the Rosalind Franklin Papers, which range from 1920 to 1975. The collection contains photographs, correspondence, diaries, published articles, lectures, laboratory notebooks, and research notes.
As part of its Profiles in Science project, the National Library of Medicine has collaborated with the Churchill Archives Centre to digitize and make available over the World Wide Web a selection of the Rosalind Franklin Papers for use by educators and researchers. This site provides access to the portions of the Rosalind Franklin Papers of the Churchill Archives Centre that have been selected for digitization. Individuals interested in conducting research in the Rosalind Franklin Papers are invited to contact the Churchill Archives Centre.
This online Exhibit is designed to introduce you to the various phases of Franklin's scientific career and professional life. It is divided into sections that focus on Franklin's life and major scientific contributions. We suggest that new visitors begin with this exhibit, which includes a small selection of documents and visuals, organized within these sections. Each section begins with a "Background Narrative," which leads to "Documents" and "Visuals."
Visitors may access additional materials through Search on the navigation bar. They may also view the materials alphabetically or chronologically by choosing Browse on the navigation bar. Documents and visuals in these lists are arranged by format and then either alphabetically by title or chronologically.