The core of the Robert A. Millikan Collection at the
California Institute of Technology consists of the official papers generated by
Millikan during the twenty-five years that he was the executive officer at the
Institute. The bulk of the papers consist of correspondence, lecture notes, and
other materials dealing with scientific and academic matters.
Robert Andrews Millikan (1868-1953) is best known as an experimental physicist. The oil
drop method developed by Millikan enabled him to establish the long accepted value for e, the
elementary unit of electrical charge. His pioneering investigations into the photoelectric effect
gave important support to the quantum theory of light. For these achievements he was awarded
the Nobel Prize in physics in 1923. He was also widely known as the author, with Henry Gordon
Gale, of a series of textbooks that were the mainstay of physics courses in the first half of the twentieth
century. Several generations of Americans literally learned their physics from Millikan.
Copyright may not have been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish
or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on
behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include
or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
The collection is open for research. Researchers must apply in writing for access.