Institut Curie: Laboratory Notebooks and Research Reports
CNRS
Institut Curie
The Musée Curie is home to a collection of historic archives including 3 laboratory notebooks and 14 volumes of research reports that faithfully tell the story of close to 60 years of Curie laboratory activity. The first two notebooks, that record events concerning the laboratory, are written in Marie Curie's hand. The first notebook (1898-1927) underwent a complete restoration in 2013 to preserve it for future generations.

The first entries date from 1898, when the famous Curie duo invested a makeshift laboratory at the École Municipale de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles (Municipal Academy of Applied Physics and Chemistry), located rue Lhomond, where Pierre Curie was teaching. It is in that warehouse lab that they discovered polonium and radium, an accomplishment for which they would receive the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics along with Henri Becquerel. In 1904, thanks to his Nobel Prize, Pierre Curie was appointed to a tailor-made Physics Chair at the Faculté des Sciences. With his new position and the university's support, Pierre Curie was able to transform his private office into a "real" laboratory, rue Cuvier. When Pierre Curie died accidentally in 1906, Marie Curie took over both his academic chair and the laboratory, where she worked until 1915.

On December 12th 1909, the Université de Paris and the Institut Pasteur launched the creation of a Radium Institute in Paris, whose mission was to study radioactivity and its applications in the fields of chemistry, biology and medicine. The Radium Institute was divided into two sections: the Laboratoire Curie, under the direction of Marie Curie, devoted entirely to research in physics and chemistry; and the Laboratoire Pasteur, under the direction of Dr. Claudius Regaud, that focused on the biological and medical effects of radiation. Construction was completed in the summer of 1914, at the onset of WWI. The Laboratoire Curie survived and prospered despite the vicissitudes of history. When Marie Curie died in 1934, she was succeeded by André Debierne, friend and close collaborator of the Curies and discoverer of the element actinium. He in turn was succeeded in 1946 by Irène Joliot-Curie, followed by Irène's husband Frédéric Joliot-Curie in 1956.