WWII started during Franklin's second year at Cambridge. Her father believed that she should be doing something more for the war effort, while Franklin believed she would do the most good to continue to pursue her degree in chemistry. "As my father saw it, Rosalind was taking an unwarranted soft option," Franklin's sister writes in her memoir My Sister Rosalind Franklin, "this was the time when my mother … firmly took Rosalind's side, convinced that she was right to stay in Newnham. Rosalind was, as she herself explained to my father, anxious to do some sort of war work in the vacations, helping my parents with their work for refugees, and was anxious, too, to have some sort of war work using her scientific skills when she graduated--it was then, after all, 1941, and the country was still in crisis. By the time the war was over, the direction of Rosalind's life was clear."
She was introduced to x-ray crystallography in college. I was very fortunate to find some of her notes from her college classes.*
She did very well in school, however, she was always very nervous about exams. She often performed very well, though. She wrote many letters home about her anxiety about her exams in college.
Franklin went on to get a degree in physical chemistry. In 1942, she left college and began her work with coal.
*Note: After writing this I came across even more of her notebooks from school which are published in an online collection of her papers here: wellcomecollection.org/works/h4yftrdd
Loren Sinclair is a high school student interested in chemistry, art, computer science, theater, and everything else! They are writing this blog to tell Rosalind Franklin's often untold tale, from her life story to the science behind her work.