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Bruno Benedetto Rossi papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0166

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Rossi's education and early teaching career are recorded in lecture notes of one of his professors, annotated by Rossi, his physics course notebooks, and his published lecture notes from the University of Padua. An unpublished autobiography provides information about Rossi's life, including his MIT years. There is correspondence about his efforts to find a position in an American or British physics laboratory before World War II, together with copies of his curriculum vitae and teaching materials, available on microfilm. Also included are copies of Rossi's published writings, mostly on x-ray astronomy, some of which are available on microfilm.


  • Creation: 1922 - 1990


Access note

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Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.


Bruno Benedetto Rossi, 1905-1993, PhD in physics, 1927, University of Bologna, after four years as assistant professor of physics at the University of Florence, was named professor of physics at the University of Padua. He was dismissed by the Fascist government and left Italy in 1938. He came to the United States in 1939 at the invitation of Arthur Compton to work as a research associate at the University of Chicago. He was associate professor of physics at Cornell University from 1940 to 1943, when he joined the staff of the Los Alamos Laboratory for the duration of World War II. He came to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1946 as professor and was named Institute Professor in 1966. He was active in the work of the Physical Science Study Committee in developing new materials for the teaching of high school physics. As a member of the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences and other advisory groups, he helped formulate public policy in the exploration of space.

In 1929 he invented the first electronic circuit for recording the simultaneous occurrence of three or more electrical pulses, which proved to be one of the fundamental electronic devices for experimental high energy physics as well as a basic element of the modern computer. His research interests included the properties of mesons, and their spontaneous radioactive decay; the nature of the high energy interactions between fundamental particles which occur when cosmic rays collide with matter; and the astrophysical problems of the origin and propagation of cosmic rays. In 1960 he initiated an exploratory search for cosmic x-rays which led to the discovery of the Scipio x-ray source, the first non-solar source of cosmic x-rays to be observed.

MIT News Office obituary:


42 Cubic Feet (40 record cartons, 3 manuscript boxes, 2 half manuscript boxes, 1 flat box)

Language of Materials



Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Source of Acquisiton

The papers were given to Distinctive Collections (formerly the Institute Archives and Special Collections) in March 1983 by Bruno Rossi. Additional materials were received from Bruno Rossi in 1986, 1988, and 1991. Papers received in 1996, 2000, and 2001 were transferred from the Center for Space Research Reading Room.

Processing Information note

This collection is unprocessed.

Processing Information note

Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.

Preliminary Inventory to the Papers of Bruno Benedetto Rossi
Ready For Review
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

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