AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXXIV , No. 2, Fall 2002


Recent Acquisitions of the Niels Bohr Library

Manuscript Materials

Our large and unique collection of student notebooks grew further when Gibson Reaves donated his notebooks of astronomy courses taken 1943-1949 (0.5 lin. ft.). Another constantly growing collection is from the Gravity Research Foundation essay contest, for which we now received the 2002 entries (0.5 lin. ft.). Brenda Winnewisser donated additional papers of Hedwig Kohn from 1886-1936 that she received from Wilhelm Tappe (0.25 lin. ft.). Biographical materials on Klaus Fuchs from 1943-1989 were sent by Robert Williams from his work on a biography of Fuchs (2.5 lin. ft.).

The Niels Bohr Library is the repository for records of many of the Member Societies of the American Institute of Physics. We received from American Association of Physics Teachers, American Journal of Physics editor's reports from Bob Romer (via Bernie Khoury) for the years 1982-2001 (.25 lin. ft.). Frank Edmondson and Indiana University transferred the American Astronomical Society, Office of the Treasurer, Records of Frank K. Edmondson, 1898-1979 to the Niels Bohr Library (24 lin. ft.). Kenneth Hardy donated records for the American Physical Society, Southeastern Section (SESAPS) from 1935-1992, including scrapbooks, meeting programs and materials, and correspondence (3.0 lin. ft.). We also received SESAPS records from Wendell G. Holladay which includes photocopies of records from the E.A. Jones collection at Vanderbilt University, and photocopies of records belonging to F.G. Slack, 1934-1967 (.75 lin. ft.). And of course the Niels Bohr Library is the repository for the American Institute of Physics itself. AIP's Office of the Secretary deposited subject files used for reference from the years 1950-1990 (5.0 lin. ft.). This office also turned over the Minutes of the AIP Executive Committee and Governing Board from 1931-2000 which were converted from electronic files directly to microfilm (3 reels).

For our Miscellaneous Physics collection, Philip Anderson donated a manuscript copy of the chapter "Superfluidity and superconductivity: The past half-century" which he wrote for the Enciclopedia Italiana's series "History of Science" (2001; 41 pp.). From Franco Nori we received some reprints of articles by Paul Dirac (1928-1952; 8 pamphlets) and Erwin Schrödinger (1930-1954; 16 pamphlets). From Herbert F. Mataré we received photocopies of letters written to him by other physicists (1944-1969; 11 pp.). Frederick Seitz sent a copy of an essay he wrote on the Bohr-Heisenberg Meeting in 1941 (2002; 9 pp.). An unpublished copy of "Dating recent basalt by the potassium-argon method" by Thorbjörn Sigurgeirsson was donated by G. Brent Dalrymple (1962-1970; 26 pp.).

Manuscript Biographies and Institutional Histories

H. William Koch sent us a copy of autobiographical notes entitled "Ed Condon and the NBS Radiation Physics Laboratory" (2002; 9 pp.). Judy Franz of APS donated a biography of Philip Dalton written by Philip M. Smith (2002; 57 pp.). We received an autobiography by Byron T. Wright titled "Clips of my life" (n.d.; 139 pp.). David Diffenderfer donated his Recollections of Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory (2002; 7 pp.). E. Leonard Jossem donated a copy of an early American Physical Society brochure on fund-raising called "Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay" (ca. 1927; 6 pp.). Additional documentation on the history of the AAPT Appalachian Section was contributed by Folden B. Stumpf.

Finding Aids

Increasingly, archival repositories are providing copies of finding aids to the public on their Web sites. When we get news of a newly published finding aid online, we will print the URL in this column. Links to the online finding aids of many collections in phyics and allied fields can now be found in the record for the collection in our International Catalog of Sources, available at /history. However, scholars who have grown expert at exploiting the Web's resources should bear in mind that the Niels Bohr Library also has hundreds of printed finding aids to collections around the world that are not currently accessible online. Staff will be glad to provide photocopies or look up specific items.

McMaster University Library shared with us a copy of their finding aid to the B. N. Brockhouse papers. The published finding aid to the Archives of the International Astronomical Union, Inventory for the years 1919-1970 by A. Blaauw, has been added to our book collection. A copy of the list of the contents for the papers of Louis Néel (in French) from the Académie des Sciences in Paris is now available at the Niels Bohr Library. You can examine the guide to the papers of Sir Marcus Laurence Oliphant at the University of Adelaide Library on the Web at

Case Western Reserve, in notifying us of the acquisition of the papers of William Pendry Bidelman, also sent us a box list of the contents. Fermilab contributed copies of the inventories to the Records of FNAL Office of the Director, Records of Peter Limon, and the SSCL Special Collection. The Preliminary Guide to the Boris Garfinkel Papers at Yale University is available online at

In the last year our archival intern processed and wrote finding aids to the American Astronomical Society, Office of the Treasurer, Records of Frank K. Edmondson collection and the American Institute of Physics, Center for History of Physics, Project on the History of Recent Physics collection.


Through the kind aid of Nancy Greenspan and Gustav Born we obtained copies of over 80 photographs from Max Born's Papers in Edinburgh, including photos of Max Born himself, Otto Hahn, James Franck, Otto Oldenberg, and Chandrasekhar Raman to name a few. (See article, p. 3) Our collection of Nobel Laureates in Physics is still complete, thanks to donations this year from Eric Cornell, Wolfgang Ketterle, and Carl Wieman. We received a substantial collection of photographs from Kurt Gottfried, with photographs of such notable physicists as Henry Kendall, Hans Bethe and Richard Feynman. Martinus Veltman donated ten photographs of Swiss physicist Baron Stückelberg, who had not been represented in our collection. Donald Clayton has also added another good set of images to his already substantial donation of photographs. For donations of one or two photographs we are grateful to Dieter Brill, Virginia Trimble, Colin Hines, Charles Misner, Robert Resnick, Per Dahl, Katherine Kron, and Robert Gould.

We have continued adding images to the Visual Archives from the Niels Bohr Library's archival collections, mainly the W. F. Meggers Collection, which includes photographs of many of the instruments that Meggers worked with at the National Bureau of Standards during his time there. Physics Today continues to add to the Visual Archives with the donation of photographs submitted for their obituaries.

Please contact our photo librarian at (301) 209-3184 or if you are interested in donating photographs. We especially appreciate photographs showing scientists working with their equipment and other informal photographs.

Other Audio-Visual Materials

A note on videotape: The Niels Bohr Library collects recordings of symposia and lectures with significant historical content, especially first-person reminiscences. These are increasingly being recorded on videotape rather than audio tape. This is a problem for long-term preservation, for videotapes may become unreadable within a few decades. Digitization or repeated remastering is beyond the Library's financial means at present. We will try to at least make audio masters (which retain most of the historically valuable information) before the videotapes decay too far, but until our resources expand or digitization becomes much cheaper, the Library will not be able to guarantee permanent preservation.

We received three videocassettes of The Copenhagen Interpretation: Science and History on Stage, which was taped at the Smithsonian Institution in 2002 upon the opening of the play "Copenhagen" in Washington DC, from Brian Schwartz. The American Vacuum Society sent us a videocassette of the NBS/NIST Centennial Session from their October 2001 Symposium. E. Leonard Jossem donated a videocassette copy of the Arnold B. Arons Memorial session from the AAPT Summer 2001 meeting. A set of four videocassettes of some of the Enrico Fermi Centennial Celebration held at the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago in September 2001 was donated by James E. Pilcher.

Steven M. Kahn kindly contributed eight audio cassettes with talks from the Enrico Fermi and the Beginnings of Nuclear Fission Centennial Conference held in November, 2001. We received an audiocassette copy of Richard Garwin's talk on National Public Radio in April 2001, "Reconsidering the paternity of the H-bomb," from Patrick McCray. An interview of Jack S. Kilby done in 2001 by James M. Lafferty was donated by the interviewer. An anonymous donor turned over an unusual recording (on 7-inch green flexible 33.3 RPM vinyl disks!) of J. Robert Oppenheimer giving a speech at the 1945 meeting of the Association of Los Alamos Scientists.

Patrick McCray and the Bancroft Library at UCLA gave us three CD-ROMs with audio clips of Ernest O. Lawrence that were used for the History Center's Web exhibit on Lawrence. From David Stern we received copies of three of his Web exhibits on CD-ROM: "From Stargazers to Starships" (; "The Great Magnet, the Earth" ( and "Exploration of the Earth's Magnetosphere" ( We received a copy of a talk titled "Religion in an age of science" given by Harlow Shapley at Vanderbilt University in 1958 on CD-ROM, recorded by Robert H. Hardie and Michael S. Snowden.


Virginia Trimble, the wife of late Joseph Weber, added to her previous donation of several hundred books from his collection few hundred more that were at another location. Cataloging is underway; so far, we have added 273 books from this generous gift to our collection.

This year we are especially grateful to have received copies of books from their authors. Such donations included: Eri Yagi's A Historical Approach to Entropy and the supplement, with her collected papers, Dong-won Kim's Leadership and Creativity: a History of the Cavendish Laboratory, 1871-1919, and Hiro Tawara's Pioneers of Physics in the Early Days of Japan. The Library also received donations from the Carnegie Institution of Washington (Good Seeing: A Century of Science at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1902-2002). For other book donations, we would like to express our gratitude to Shaun J. Hardy, John Vesel, Guy Emery, Edward V. Lee, Elroy O. LaCasce, Herbert F. Matare, and Peter Reppert. Our library would not have its large collection of important books without generous donations from such people.

In addition, as always, we have purchased a number of new and used books with the aid of funds donated by our Friends, in particular a generous endowment from the Brodsky Foundation.

Oral History Interviews

The historians who conduct interviews with the help of grants-in-aid from the Friends of the Center have been active. We are especially grateful to Christopher Smeenk, who has been conducting a project on the history of modern cosmology. This past year he deposited interviews with John Barrow, Jeremiah Ostriker, Jim Peebles, Martin Rees, Bill Saslaw, Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok. This project is done in collaboration with the Center's Postdoctoral Historian, Patrick McCray, who is also interviewing astronomers, both for general preservation purposes and in connection with a forthcoming book on the construction of large modern telescopes. He has also conducted some interviews with people who have made administrative contributions to physics societies and the community, an important group that historians have rarely addressed. This past year McCray interviewed Sandra Faber, Roderick Grant, James Houck, John Huchra, Leonard Jossem, Robert Kraft, Christopher McKee, Brian Schwartz, Malcolm Smith, Harvey Tananbaum, and Scott Tremaine.

A fine collection of over 40 interviews of astronomers and others associated with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, conducted in the years 1975-1999, was donated by David DeVorkin of the National Air & Space Museum. Those interviewed include Robert Frosch, Thomas Gold, Martin Harwit, Walter Roberts, Fred Singer, Lyman Spitzer, Richard Tousey, James Westphal, and many others. Other interviews received this year, both old and new, were: Katherine Harris by Fredericka Bell-Berti; Richard Lyons by Robert Fricke; Hurt Hoheremser by Gerhard Rammer; Leo Beranek by Joseph Leary; Rudolf Peierls and Eugene Wigner by Patricia Rife; William Baker and 2 sessions with David Beckler by Ron Doel; L. Goodfriend and Eric Ungar by Richard Peppin; Oleg Vaisberg by David Stern; John Clauser by Joan Bromberg; and Philip Abelson by Amy Crumpton.

Some of these interviews are fully transcribed and available for use, while others are still being processed (in some cases, formal permission for access has yet to be obtained). When an interview is ready to be used, it is recorded in our International Catalog of Sources (available on our homepage, /history), but scholars may inquire about special permission for access to interviews being processed.

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