Archives Centre acquires the papers of its first female scientist, Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner was born in Austria on 7 November 1878, the daughter of the Viennese lawyer, Phillip Meitner. In 1901 she entered the University of Vienna, becoming Doctor of Philosophy in 1906.

In the following year Meitner left Austria and went to Berlin to study with the physicist Max Planck, becoming joint discoverer of Thorium-C in 1908. In 1912 Meitner moved on to work with Otto Hahn at the Chemical Institute, Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft, in Göttingen.

During the First World War she served for a time as an X-ray nurse in the Austrian Army, but continuing her research, Meitner became the discoverer of Protoactinium in 1917, and the following year was made Head of the Radiation Physics Department at the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft. In 1926 Meitner became a Professor of the University of Berlin, and also a correspondent of the Royal Society of Göttingen.

In 1938 Meitner fled Nazi Germany, travelling to Sweden to work at the Nobel Institute, and in 1939 discovered nuclear fission, working jointly with her old colleague Otto Hahn. After the war, Meitner moved to the Swedish Atomic Energy Laboratory in 1947 and in 1949 took Swedish citizenship. She retired to Cambridge in 1960, dying there on 28 October 1968.

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