AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXXVIII , No. 2, Fall 2006

 

Niels Bohr Library Acquires Materials
in New Formats

by Orville R. Butler

Isidor Isaac Rabi with students from Art Rich’s group during a visit to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Credit: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Lawrence Jones Collection.

Click on photo to see a larger image

Each year we receive more donations in digital formats. The variety of new formats, many of them proprietary and few of them likely to be in widespread use decades hence, is daunting for a repository that aims to preserve the information for as long as posterity may want them; “digital materials last five years or forever, whichever comes first.” That is, digitized information is almost indestructible in principle, but in practice depends on ephemeral physical media and software formats. We accept
material in digital formats that are currently supported by AIP’s Information Technology Department, and we think we can maintain the information indefinitely provided we can continue to find funds to either store it on servers that are regularly backed up, or
reformat it onto gold CD-R or DVD-R discs. When the current formats begin to obsolesce, and as more research becomes available on the longevity of such discs, we will establish a schedule for migrating the information to new formats and media. This is
analogous to our current policy of regularly inspecting our analog recordings and reformatting them where needed.

Another feature of the new digital age is that it is getting increasingly problematic to make distinctions among “archival records,” “audiovisual recordings,” “oral history interviews,”
“published materials,” and so forth. A given DVD might contain materials that place it in all of these categories at once! We are fortunate to have dedicated professional catalogers who rise to the challenge of making sure future scholars will find everything they need for their work.

Manuscript Collections and Audiovisual Materials

This year’s accessions include a DVD recording of a presentation given by Benjamin Bederson titled “Los Alamos and Tinian: a personal memoir”; a DVD recording from the Musée des Arts et Métiers of filmed talks and digitized reproductions of photographs and French cyclotron files from 1940-1947; a set of two CDs of a sound recording made by the Argonne National Laboratory titled “To Fermi – with love” (an item that already existed in our collection as a long-playing disc recording). We also received a short audio recording and transcript of Lord Kelvin speaking about radioactivity, dated 1905.

The Gravity Research Foundation made its annual addition of files pertaining to the 2006 Essay Contest (0.5 linear feet). This year, for the first time, the donation included a DVD (“Universal Gravitation and Autodynamics: a working quantum model for universal gravitation”). The Gravity Research Foundation also digitized the files from their annual contest from 1949-2006 and submitted this CD copy to the archives for research use. As further evidence of the changing nature of records, we received a set of e-mail correspondence files from Nancy Grace Roman. These records were submitted through electronic mail, printed onto archival paper and added to the archives (3 folders). Robert Ubell added to our existing collection of files from his years as editor of the “Masters of Modern Physics” series (0.5 linear feet). The Publishing Division of the American Institute of Physics increased its holdings in our archives with the addition of programs and abstracts from past years of the Magnetism and Magnetic Materials Annual Conference and digests of the INTERnational MAGnetics Conference (2.0 linear feet).

The Member Societies of AIP have been exceptionally active this year in preserving their historical records. The Society of Rheology increased its existing collections in our archives with the addition of the Rheology Bulletin from 1977-2005 and the society’s annual meeting programs and abstracts from 1978-2005 (0.75 linear feet), as well as a set of rosters from 1958-1996 containing lists of the officers and committee members
of various Society of Rheology committees. The Acoustical Society of America also increased its holdings with the addition of a publication commemorating the 75th Anniversary of ASA (1 folder), celebrated in 2004. The American Physical Society donated the records of Val Fitch (2 linear feet), containing files produced during his term as President of APS. The American Astronomical Society donated the audio recordings of the AAS Centennial Celebration, held in Chicago in 1999
(13 audio cassettes).

This spring the American Institute of Physics celebrated 75 years of service with a meeting at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC (where the AIP Governing Board held its initial meeting in 1931) and symposia held at AIP’s corporate headquarters in College Park, MD and its publishing center in Melville, NY. We are saving many materials generated by this celebration, including webcasts, taped sessions, promotional materials, and organizational records, as well as the interviews noted in the oral history section of this report.

The Niels Bohr Library received several additions to our Institutional Histories collection, including a DVD commemorating the Acoustical Society of America’s 75th anniversary; a set of three DVDs from the IBM Research Center, commemorating its 60th anniversary; a pamphlet titled Official Guide: Carnegie Institute of Technology; an unpublished manuscript (101 pages) documenting the history of the Lehigh University Department of Physics, and a presentation given by Cherry Murray at a 2005 meeting of APS, outlining the history, changes and development of Bell Labs and Lucent Technologies. For our biographical files we received a copy of a talk given by Lawrence Cranberg titled “Ethical Problems of Scientists.”

To our growing Miscellaneous Physics Collection, we added the following items: “Remembering the Manhattan Project: Report of the proceedings from the Atomic Heritage Foundation’s Symposium Report and Preservation Plan” (115 pages); a photocopy of a notebook from the files of Jules Guéron, from his uranium research (100 pages); notebooks and lecture notes from David Allen Park’s undergraduate years at Harvard (0.5 linear feet); a program from the Broadway show “Dr. Atomic” and notes from a pre-performance talk by Wolfgang Panofsky; a manuscript by Arjun Saxena titled “Important facts and clarifications of the invention and evolution of integrated circuits” (54 pages, 1 CD); and a CD containing an audiovisual presentation inspired by the audio recording of Benjamin Lee’s talk at the 1977 APS meeting in Chicago, compiled by Joo Sang Kang, Professor of Physics, Korea University.

Books

The Niels Bohr Library continues to receive many important donations of books and other printed materials, many of them difficult or impossible to find elsewhere. For example, Albert Parr from the National Institute of Standards and Technology donated George Shortley’s own copy of The Theory of Groups and Quantum Mechanics, the classic text famous as “Condon and Shortley.” This unique copy has Shortley’s extensive marginal notes, and will be locked in our rare books collection.

Several of our donations narrated the histories of physics at particular universities. Ryan E. Doezma donated Late Start, Last Finish from the University of Oklahoma Physics Department. John David Jackson donated History of the Physics Department: University of California, Berkeley 1950-196 , and Cyrus C. Taylor donated Physics at a Research University: Case Western Reserve 1 30-1990.

As noted in the separate article on p.7, some large collections came after we asked institutional librarians to consider sending us books that they were planning to discard. Meanwhile we got enough other large donations to keep library staff busy checking what we needed and cataloging the new accessions. Because our collection is already quite comprehensive, we actually need only a fraction of the useful books offered. For example, Angela Gooden at the Geology-Mathematics-Physics Library at the University of Cincinnati offered to donate nine books, but we already had copies of most of them. We did gain the second edition of the textbook Physics by Chris D. Zafiratos.

Besides rescuing what would have been library discards, we accessioned 27 books to our collection from a donation by Louis Belliveau on his retirement from the Harry Diamond Laboratory. Herbert and Frances Bernstein donated a number of books from the New York University Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences Library, of which we accessioned 31. And AIP’s CEO Marc Brodsky offered books from his own library, adding 24 books to our collection. Elroy O. LaCasce of Bowdoin College offered a number of books, of which we accessioned 8. We also received donations of valuable printed materials from Alice Dodge Wallace, Shaun Hardy of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington (including IUGG reports), David Park at Williams College, and Milton Katz of the SUNY College of Optometry (books on optometry and ophthalmic lenses).

Visual Archives

We now have over 8,000 images available in a greatly improved online interface. That is still only a third of the collection, and we are digitizing more photos on a regular basis. Many of the donations we received this year are now online, including images we are grateful to have received from Donald Clayton, Ken Ford, Charles Hargrove (Bancroft Library), Jeff Hecht, Zdenek Herman, Hubert Lechevalier, Norton Hintz, Lawrence W. Jones, Randy J. Montoya (Sandia National Labs), Peter Prokop (Bildarchiv Austria), Dale Syphers (Bowdoin University), and Crystal Tinch (AAS). Nobel laureates Roy Glauber and Theodor W. Hänsch donated photographs of themselves at our request, and so did AIP Member Society Presidents Anthony A. Atchley, Robert Bau, John J. Hopfield, Timothy Killeen, Andrew M. Kraynik, Christie R. K. Marrian, Neal D. Shinn and J. Craig Wheeler.

Oral History Interviews

Tape-recorded interviews are the materials most used by scholars who visit the Library, and we have added an unusually large volume since last Fall’s report. Many have come through the History of Physicists in Industry project conducted by Joe Anderson and Orville Butler. These are structured interviews of 1-2 hours, built around questions about the administrative organization and record-keeping practices of industrial research laboratories, but including a variety of interesting personal and historical information. In the fall of 2005, Anderson and Butler visited two major industrial labs. At Honeywell, they interviewed David Arch, Robert Carlson, Barry Cole, Allen Cox, Bob Horning, Burgess Johnson, Cathy Juneau, Jane Kaufenburg, and Daniel Youngner. Interviewed at Lockheed Martin were David Chennette, Rick Kendricks, Walt Martin, Jeff Newmeyer, Rich Nightingale, Malcolm O’Neill, Pat Perkins, Jessica Perrine, James Ryder, and Mike Schultz.

In 2006 at General Atomics in La Jolla, Anderson and Butler interviewed David Baldwin, Doug Fouguet, Chris Hamilton, Woodie Jarrett, Linda Lanstille, John Rawls, Constantine Scheder, Arksl Shenoy, Rich Steven, and Tony Taylor. At
Agilent Technologies in Santa Clara, they interviewed Cindy Alfiese, Devon Dawson, Curt Flory, Jim Hollinshorst, Mel Kronick, Steve Newton, Darlene Solomon, Hoen Storrs, Bob Taber, and Greg VanWiggeren. As another part of the project, the Center for History of Physics contracted with historian Sheldon Hochheiser to conduct two more extensive, autobiographical interview sessions with
William Brinkman
.

We received a large donation of video oral histories from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (81 DVDs), focusing on physicists in medicine. These interviews were conducted from 1995 to 2004, but were recently reformatted from VHS to DVD.

David DeVorkin sent us 10 interviews that he conducted in Cambridge, Mass. in fall 2005. They were with Eugene Avrett, Robert Davis, Owen Gingerich, Kathy Haramundanis, David Latham, Thomas Marsden (two separate sessions), Richard
E. McCrosky, Leo McGrath
and Charles Whitney. He also provided copies of interviews with other important figures in space astronomy: Thomas van Flandern, Steve Maran, and Victor Sablinski.

The Center’s postdoctoral historian, Babak Ashrafi, interviewed Joel Birnbaum (two sessions), Len Cutler, Cherry Ann Murray (two sessions), and Arno A. Penzias (two sessions). Stuart W. Leslie interviewed Harold Agnew (Los Alamos), as well as Edward Chester Creutz, Arthur Kantrowitz of AVCO-Everett Research Lab, Tihiro Ohkawa (General Atomics) and Ronald Waltz (General Atomics). Working under a National Science Foundation grant administered by the AIP Center, Patrick McCray interviewed Michael Flatte, Olle Heinonen, Daniel Loss, Stephan von Molnar and Stuart Wolf. Other interviews that historians sent to us for archiving were Michael Gruntman by David Stern, Chester McKinney by David Blockstock, and the AVS award winners Dick Brundle, Jane Chang, and Stan Veprek by Paul Holloway. Joan Bromberg conducted an interview with Carol O’Alley. And Francis Slakey and Jennifer Ouellette interviewed Richard Garwin and Sidney Drell for APS News; here as in many of the other cases we transcribed the interview. Sean F. Johnston sent us an interview series relating to the history of holography. His interviews are with Steven A. Benton, Tung Hon Jeong, Emmett N. Leith, Graham Saxby, Larry D. Siebert, and a partial interview with H. Joh Caulfield. Finally, an interview with Herman Zimmerman was conducted by Maiken Lolck with support from an AIP
Center grant-in-aid.

The American Institute of Physics celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2006, and hired Richard Kindig to produce interviews with all available important figures from our past and present, discussing AIP’s history and the role of physics in general. The results are archived on 22 DVDs, with notes but no transcripts. The interviewees were John A. Armstrong, Richard Baccante, Theresa C. Braun, Marc H. Brodsky, Mildred S. Dresselhaus, Kenneth W. Ford, Hans Frauenfelder, Roderick M. Grant, William C. Kelly, H. William Koch, Gloria B. Lubkin, Robert H. Marks, Elaine Moran, Norman F. Ramsey, John S. Rigden, Roland W. Schmitt, Frederick Seitz, Benjamin B. Snavely, Justin T. Stimatze, James H. Stith, Darlene A. Walters and Lindsay Windsor.

 


Return to Newsletter Table of ContentsRETURN to Fall 2006 Newsletter Table of Contents

AIP History CenterCenter for History of Physics
E-mail: chp@aip.org
Phone: 301-209-3165
American Institute of Physics © 2006 American Institute of Physics,
One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740-3843. E-mail: aipinfo@aip.org
Phone: 301-209-3100; Fax: 301-209-0843