Fonds 1948 - Harry Lambert Welsh fonds

Identity area

Reference code

UTA 1948


Harry Lambert Welsh fonds


  • 1930-1987 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

4.57 m of textual and graphic records (16 boxes and 2 folders)

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Welsh, Harry Lambert BA 1930, MA 1931, PhD 1936. Professor of Physics and Chairman of the Physics Department.

Dr. Harry Lambert Welsh (1910-1984) was a prominent physicist. Born in 1910 near Aurora, Ontario, Dr. Welsh made use of the travelling libraries to Aurora at an early age and gained enthusiasm for the field of astronomy, an interest that eventually spurred his career as a physics professor.

Upon completion of high school, Dr. Welsh and his family moved to Toronto, Ontario where in 1926, he enrolled in Mathematics and Physics at the University of Toronto. Despite a strong interest in music and the piano, Dr. Welsh decided to commit himself to the study of physics, and obtained his Master’s degree in 1931. Inspired by a series of lectures delivered by Nobel Laureate James Franck, Dr. Welsh decided to pursue his PhD in Göttingen, Germany under Franck. However, the rise of the Hitler regime in Germany forced Dr. Welsh back to Toronto where he was able to complete his PhD in 1936 on the topic of selective reflection from mercury.

Dr. Welsh joined the Department of Physics at the U of T after his graduation, and with the outbreak of World War II, he helped prepare and deliver lectures on electronics and the use of radar to Canadian Armed Forces personnel. In 1942, Dr. Welsh married Marguerite Ostrander and for the final two years of the war, the couple moved to Ottawa where Dr. Welsh worked in operations research for the Royal Canadian Navy. He achieved the rank of Lieutenant-Commander.

When the war ended, Dr. Welsh and Marguerite returned to Toronto where he was able to continue his previous research in molecular spectroscopy, and with the help of colleagues made several important advances in that field. During his time at the U of T, Dr. Welsh helped supervise 65 graduate students, served as the Chairman of Physics (1962-1968), was awarded the Canadian Association of Physicists Medal for Achievement in Physics (1961), was President of the Canadian Association of Physicists (1974-74), and was awarded numerous honorary degrees. In 1972, Dr. Welsh was awarded the Medal of Service and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Started as a series of lectures to honor Dr. Welsh’s 65th birthday in 1975, the University of Toronto and the Department of Physics established a series of annual lectures every May known as the H.L Welsh Lectureship.

Dr. Welsh was well known for his broad knowledge beyond physics – he was a talented musician, a historian, and he was well versed in Russian language and literature, spending much of his free time translating Russian scientific papers for use in English speaking countries.

Harry Lambert Welsh died on July 23, 1984 at the age of 74.

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This collection consists of biographical information, certificates and diplomas, correspondence relating to Dr. Welsh’s employment as Chairman of the Department of Physics, with officials of the Order of Canada, his retirement, the H.L. Welsh Lectureship, and other honors. The collection also includes notes and outlines from four interviews done for the U of T Oral History Programme. The collection includes four photographs, several degrees, awards, certificates, and posters. This collection has been divided into three series based on the form and content of the records; 1) Correspondence and Biographical Material, 2) Degrees, Awards, and Certificates, and 3) Photographs.

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Finding aid for accession B2012-0004 only; linked below.

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