AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XL , No. 2, Fall 2008

Recent Additions to the Niels Bohr Library & Archives

The Library & Archives rely almost entirely on donations. When collections are offered we try to place them in the most appropriate repository, which is usually not our own archives; even so, we continue to acquire historically valuable materials. For some we can find no better home, and we also collect copies of hard-to-find items that we can make readily available to scholars. Since the Fall 2007 report the pace of acquisitions has been steady.

Audiovisual Collections

In the Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, more than 14,000 images are now available online at That is now nearly half of the collection, following accelerated activity made possible by the hiring of a full-time summer intern. Work continues on processing the large donation we received last year from the University of Illinois Physics Department; so far 1,318 images from this outstanding collection have been scanned and added to ESVA.

Another set of remarkable pictures came from Heidi Palombo at the Department of Energy’s Energy Technology Visuals Collection, who arranged for the donation of more than 100 images largely taken during the time of the Manhattan Project and Atomic Energy Commission.

We also thank the following donors for contributing images this past year: Sidney Abrahams (Southern Oregon University), Douglas Allan (Corning Inc.), Badri Badrinarayan (Corning Research Laboratory), Rose Bethe, Roy L. Bishop, Louis Brus (Columbia University), Donald D. Clayton (Clemson University), Martin Harwit, Charles Holbrow (Colgate University), James N. Hollenhorst (Agilent Technologies), J. David Jackson (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), John Jenkin (La Trobe University), L. (Rick) Kendrick (Lockheed Martin), Mark Kryder (Carnegie Mellon University), Charles Misner (University of Maryland), Elise Mills, Bill Petros, Julia M. Phillips (Sandia National Laboratories), Richard Brian Pollard (University of Bristol), A. Rex Rivolo, Juan G. Roederer (University of Alaska Fairbanks), Manfred R. Schroeder (Drittes Physik. Institut), Pat Viele (Cornell University), Kameshwar Wali (Syracuse University), and Earl Zwicker. Responding to our requests, made of all new Nobel Laureate and AIP Member Society Presidents, Laureate Albert Fert (Université Paris-Sud) donated photos of himself, as did AIP Member Society Presidents Lila M. Adair, Rod C. Alferness, Arthur Bienenstock,Timothy Grove, Marvin Hackert, John P. Huchra, Robert K. Prud’homme, John N. Russell Jr., and Gerald A. White Jr.

The Center for History of Physics provided advice and assistance in the production of the documentary film “Absolute Zero,” produced by WGBH Video and based on the book Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold by Tom Shachtman; a copy of the video was among the items added to our audiovisual collections this year.

Other additions included Alfred Leitner’s collection of films on low-temperature superconductivity and optics; a recording of Richard Isaacson’s 2007 talk on the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO); a video recording and programs from the dedication ceremony of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Bardeen Quadrangle in honor of John Bardeen; a collection of old physics educational films from Butler County Community College (Butler, PA); and video interviews conducted by George Zimmerman with Edward Teller and Wolfgang Franzen.

Manuscript Collections

The Center for History of Physics and many other physicsrelated institutions and individuals regularly get letters, manuscripts and books from people who believe they have solved the mysteries of the universe, refuted Einstein, and so forth. These materials can give insight into popular beliefs about science and scientists, and we have sporadically collected items that come our way, following the principle of preserving materials of interest that others are likely to discard. This year we received two collections on crank theories in physics from individual donors, one collection from Alex Harvey and another from Lawrence Badash.

The Niels Bohr Library & Archives is the official repository for the American Institute of Physics (AIP) itself, of course, and most of the AIP member societies, and each year we receive valuable materials from them as well as from physicists, historians and other individuals. This year our archivists have begun to work closely with the staff of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) to start accessioning the AAPM records into the archives. Since our last report we have received many new items from our member societies, including: an addition to the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) records, with materials from 1950 to 2002; records of the secretary of the AAPT Chesapeake Section; additions to the growing AVS records, including membership information and documentation of research trends of members, as well as DVDs and print materials from the 50th Anniversary of AVS; and an addition to records of the secretary of the American Astronomical Society Historical Astronomy Division.

From the offices of AIP we have added interesting ephemera, including various awards and certificates, and more items for our (randomly assembled) collection of stamps, coins, and currency featuring physicists. We received a large donation from the AIP Office of the Secretary, the “office of record” for AIP, documenting the actions of AIP through the 1980s and 1990s.

We also received an addition to the Homer L. Dodge papers already in the archives, as well as our yearly addition to the Gravity Research Foundation essay contest records.

In addition to the manuscript collections in the archives, we will take in single items or collections of a few items in our collections of “miscellaneous physics”, manuscript biographies, and institutional histories. These collections contain a surprising amount of material that individuals have sent us over the years because they seemed just too interesting to throw away, and constitute a valuable resource for historians of science and other scholars.

Donations to these collections this year included several collections of correspondence and lecture notes: a donation from Ted Ansbacher of his correspondence with Arnold Arons; John Jenkins’s correspondence with Pierre Auger; Arthur Knudsen’s correspondence with Lorene Stringer from the 1940s; and a letter from R.W. (Richard Wright) Henderson to Fen McCollum; from Robert H. Romer, his notes on an Edward Purcell lecture at Harvard; Kenneth S. Pitzer’s 1949 lecture notes on quantum theory; and George Zimmerman’s collection of lecture notes by Gregory Breit and Lars Onsager.

As in previous years, we received many unpublished historical accounts and memoirs for our manuscript biographies and institutional histories collections. Besides the lecture notes mentioned above, George Zimmerman sent us his History of the Boston University Department of Physics. We also received an autobiography by Joseph S. Levinger; biographical materials from Juan G. Roederer; a personal account by Adam G. Reiss discussing his work in cosmology; recollections by Thomas B. Greenslade, Jr. of his years at Amherst and Rutgers; and “Berkeley Days: How Great Events Shaped Our Careers,” presented in honor of Elihu Abrahams for his 80th birthday.

Other donations to our miscellaneous physics collections include a transcript and photos of a talk by Gulf General Atomic Incorporated, titled “Fusion Research in Industry;” MIT Radiation Lab staff member address lists and placement survey from 1945 and 1946; Fritz Rohrlich’s collection on the Seventh Annual Conference on High Energy Nuclear Physics (1957); a National Research Council Committee on Radiation Gases report, “Molecular Spectra in Gases” (1926); Gilbert E. Cooper’s original script for a play titled, “The Shatterer of Worlds;” Robert Kirshner’s materials on cosmic acceleration; the 1946 newsletter from the Association of Los Alamos Scientists; and Jean Goldberg’s collection of physics humor.

Book Donations

The Niels Bohr Library & Archives gets more books as donations than from direct purchase, and some of the purchases themselves are supported by the sale of books that are donated but not wanted, because they duplicate items we already possess. We received many generous donations in 2008. Frances Bernstein gave the Library a very large donation of which we accessioned 31 books into the collection. David C. Blewett donated books from his library, Robin Mower donated books from the library of her father Lyman Mower, and Helen Palmatier sent us books from the library of Everett Dyson Palmatier. Vivian Hall made a donation of books from the library of Thomas C. Hall, while Marial Poll gave a large donation of books from her late husband Ernest N. Poll. We are also grateful for book donations by David DeVorkin, Paul Forman, Dieter Hoffmann, Randolph A. Reeder, John S. Rigden, Morton L. Schagrin and Maxine Trost.

Oral History Interviews

The History Center continues to commission and receive interviews covering the biographies of particularly distinguished physicist. Gerald Holton sent us his taped speech given at the May 9, 2008 Symposium and Sheldon Hochheiser sent us his interview with Joseph Giordmaine.

William Thomas conducted an interview with M. H. Brodsky former Executive Director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics which is being processed now by the History staff.

Fabio Fretia sent us his interview with Prof. Dieter Zeh. Ursula Pavish interviewed and sent us her six DVDs with Norman Ramsey. And Patrick McCray has sent us two sets of interviews; one with K. Eric Drexler and the other with Ralph Merkle.

Olival Freire Jr. sent us a CD that contains two interviews with physicist Basil Hiley. Another three interviews on CD’s came from Alex Wellerstein. They are of Keith A. Brueckner, Herb York and Ray Kidder.

The Acoustical Society of America sent us for processing and archiving interviews of Thomas D. Rossing by Henry E. Bass; Murray Gell-Mann by William Patterson, and Henning E. von Gierke by Lawrence S. Finegold.

In addition, Paul H. Holloway has sent us eight interviews conducted at the 2007 AVS’s International Symposium in San Francisco. They are Steve Pearton (John A Thornton Merorial Award); Richard Colton (Albert Nerken Award); W.M.M. Kessels (Peter Mark Memorial Award). Along with Eric Kay; Larry Kazmerski; Bill Rogers; Robert Waits; Cedric Powell. As well as, an interview with the 2008 AVS winner Donna Sherman-Bakale.

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