AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXVI, No. 2, Fall 1994

 

NIELS BOHR LIBRARY RECEIVES GREAT VARIETY OF NEW MATERIALS AND GIVES SOME AWAY MANUSCRIPT MATERIALS


A Look Ahead

o Oral History Interviews
o Manuscript Biographies and Institutional Histories
o Audio-Visual Materials
o Books and Finding Aids

The AIP Niels Bohr Library wants to see that the papers of scientists go to the institution with which they are most closely associated whenever possible. Accordingly, after the family of Eugene Paul Wigner made arrangements for the main body of his papers to be deposited in the Firestone Library of Princeton University, we were glad to transfer our own small collection (1 ft.) of Wigner materials to the Firestone. The transferred papers contain correspondence (1931-1966) on quantum mechanics, physical chemistry, and nuclear structure and reactions, with such luminaries as Hans Bethe, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and John Van Vleck.

What we do not collect ourselves, we can sometimes get a copy of, so that valuable materials can be more easily available to researchers. The changes in the former Soviet Union have brought in some unique and fascinating photocopied materials. Yuri Freiman provided copies of documents gathered by Lev Shubnikov's widow including transcripts of interrogations (1937) by the KGB, Kharkov region of Lev Shubnikov and Vadim Gorsky (both of the Ukranian Physical Technical Institute), ca. 110 pp.; also records (mostly correspondence) relating to the Kharkov Physical Technical Institute, (ca. 1926-1945), where the correspondents include Shubnikov, Paul Ehrenfest, P. L. Kapitsa, L. London, and Meissner. Freiman also sent copies of the Proceedings (1920-1921) of the University of Petrograd Student Physics Club, describing talks and listing participants, news, etc. From Paul Josephson we received V. P. Vizgin's "On the sources of the Soviet Atomic Project: The role of espionage" (in Russian), 38 pp., from the banned 1993 ssue of Voprosy istorii estestvoznaniia i tekhniki.

Scott Walter helped us obtain microfilms of 17 student note-books of Henri Poincaré. (2 reels). These notes were taken by Poincaré while he was a student at the Lyceé de Nancy and the École des Mines, Paris. They give insight into French education of the 1870s in subjects including introductory physics and chemistry, mechanics, algebra, mining technology, metallurgy, and mineralogy. The originals are held by the Poincaré estate.

Of course the Niels Bohr Library does collect original materials where it is the repository of choice, as it is for records of the AIP itself and its Member Societies. An addition to our records of the American Astronomical Society was a notebook compiled by W. J. Hussey and others, listing changes in membership (1919-1939) and recipients of AAS publications (1911-1919). And from the American Physical Society's Division of Astrophysics we received records of the Secretary/Treasurer (1970-1992), including minutes, meetings agendas, constitutions and bylaws, financial statements, awards, and membership data. During the relocation to College Park, the Center initiated a records management program under which some 170 ft. of American Institute of Physics records were transferred to the archives: the Office of the Director (files of H. William Koch and Kenneth Ford), the Office of the Secretary, Advertising and Exhibits, the Books Division, Publishing, and Physics Programs Branch. Meanwhile from Esther Hudson we received some biographical material and other additions to the papers of former AIP director Elmer Hutchisson. The American Physical Society and the Society of Rheology also transferred extensive records to the archives during the relocation. All institutional records are closed for 25 years from the date of creation except by permission of an officer of the society or AIP division.

The Library's new location in College Park in some cases makes us the most appropriate repository for materials which complement the official government records stored by the neighboring National Archives. Nancy Grace Roman donated personal papers relating to her distinguished career as a space scientist and administrator at nearby NASA, they include correspondence, photographs, manuscripts of speeches and papers, and clippings. She also donated materials of her father Irwin Roman, including a notebook from a physics course he took at Washington University in 1910-1912 and a notebook which is a very early example of data and formulas compiled from a geophysical (rather than strictly geological) viewpoint.

Some interesting individual items were received, notably a handwritten manuscript by W. H. Whitten, Jr. "On the vortex ring theory of atoms" [nd], 92 pp., and a copy of J. J. Thomson's "Treatise on the motion of vortex rings" (1892), 293 pp, the famous essay awarded the Adams Prize by the University of Cambridge, both donated by William Kempner. Arthur Edward Ruark gave a typescript entitled "How to understand special relativity" and handwritten lecture notes on the theory of relativity, 22 pp. Richard Hanau donated his notes of lectures given by George Uhlenbeck at the University of Michigan, on kinetic theory and statistical mechanics (1946-1947).


Oral History Interviews Return to Top of Article

Since our last report in the Fall 1992 issue, a number of new oral history interviews of eminent scientists have been added to our collection. Some of these interviews are open and available for researchers, but others are still in process. In 1992 Carl-Henry Geschwind conducted three interviews with George Fisher, Steven M. Stanley, and Hatten S. Yoder, Jr. In addition, Dieter Hoffman interviewed Robert Ochsenfeld. In 1993 Ron Doel was very active, interviewing Orson L. Anderson, George Garland, Gordon J.F. MacDonald, John A. O'Keefe, Keith S. Runcorn, and Tuzo J. Wilson. Finn Aaserud also interviewed Alex Tachmindji. 1994 was a slow period for formal oral history interviewing as the Center relocated to College Park. Bing Liu, a grant-in-aid recipient, interviewed Koichi Kitazawa and Shoji Tanaka; Martin Pope and John Dropkin interviewed Adnan Waly, and Ron Doel and Allan Needel interviewed Frederick Seitz. Meanwhile over 200 focused interviews have been recorded as part of the Center's study of Multi-institutional Collaborations in Space Science and Geophysics (as reported regularly in this Newsletter).

Extensive indexing has been done covering topics relating to the study's concerns with the formation and administration of large-scale research projects, and interested researchers could also extract much information on the scientific work of our sample of important projects conducted in the 1970s-1980s.


Manuscript Biographies and Institutional Histories Return to Top of Article

Since our last report in the Fall 1992 issue, a number of new oral history interviews of eminent scientists have been added to our collection. Some of these interviews are open and available for researchers, but others are still in process. In 1992 Carl-Henry Geschwind conducted three interviews with George Fisher, Steven M. Stanley, and Hatten S. Yoder, Jr. In addition, Dieter Hoffman interviewed Robert Ochsenfeld. In 1993 Ron Doel was very active, interviewing Orson L. Anderson, George Garland, Gordon J.F. MacDonald, John A. O'Keefe, Keith S. Runcorn, and Tuzo J. Wilson. Finn Aaserud also interviewed Alex Tachmindji. 1994 was a slow period for formal oral history interviewing as the Center relocated to College Park. Bing Liu, a grant-in-aid recipient, interviewed Koichi Kitazawa and Shoji Tanaka; Martin Pope and John Dropkin interviewed Adnan Waly, and Ron Doel and Allan Needel interviewed Frederick Seitz. Meanwhile over 200 focused interviews have been recorded as part of the Center's study of Multi-institutional Collaborations in Space Science and Geophysics (as reported regularly in this Newsletter).

Extensive indexing has been done covering topics relating to the study's concerns with the formation and administration of large-scale research projects, and interested researchers could also extract much information on the scientific work of our sample of important projects conducted in the 1970s-1980s.


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The Library continues to receive a wide variety of historical essays which are either unique or of very limited circulation. Recent acquisitions in the biographical vein include manuscript autobiographies by Ralph B. Baldwin (1993), Robert T. Beyer (1990), George T. Reynolds (discussing his war experience at Los Alamos) [nd], Richard Brooke Roberts (1979), and Robert D. Sard (1993). Also reminiscences of Lev Landau by Aleksandr Akhiezer, a supplement to his published recollections Landau Remembered (in Russian); a manuscript on V. T. Ter-Oganezov and his influence on the development of Soviet Astronomy, 1992, by Vitaly A. Bronshten (in Russian); and a draft manuscript by Ralph Baldwin and Don Wilhelms on a paper by R. A. Daly concerning the origin and early history of the moon, 1991.

As research becomes ever more collective, institutional history is becoming a more popular way of documenting events. We have received a history of physics research in Ukraine focussing on Kharkiv University, by Oleksandr Bakai and Yurij Raniuk (1993); press clippings compiled by the Plasma Physics Laboratory of Princeton University on the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor high- power deuterium-tritium experiments (1994); an essay on the Centennial of the Physical Review and the Grinnell College Physics Dept., by Grant Gale (1993); Frank Edmondson's manuscript of the early history of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Kitt Peak, and Cerra Tololo (1993); a manuscript by Kagnian Yan discussing the formation of traditions and styles of study of Bell Telephone Laboratories (1994); a draft manuscript by Neil Davis concerning the University of Alaska Institute of Geophysics (1993); a Charles Babbage Institute report by Arthur L. Norberg and Judy O'Neill with contributions by Kerry J. Freedman on the history of the Information Processing Techniques Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (1992); and a series of nine European Space Agency History Study Reports (published by the ESA publications division) by Michelangelo De Maria, John Krige, and Arturo Russo (1992-1994).


Audio-Visual Materials

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The Friends of the Center are supporting work to preserve and restore historical photographs of the Yerkes Observatory, and we are grateful to the Observatory for donating 33 fine photographs of people and equipment. Another current project is an effort to acquire photographs of prominent physicists for the collection, based on our records of requests received that we were not able to fill from our files; so far a dozen physicists have sent portraits and snapshots in response to our letters. The AIP Meggers Gallery of Nobel Laureates and the AIP Gallery of Member Society Presidents also continue to expand as those honored by the Nobel Prize or society elections respond willingly to our requests for photos; these large collections have hardly any gaps.

Our colleagues continue to enlarge the Emilio Segr Visual Archives with a variety of photographs documenting the human side of modern physical science, ranging from newly uncovered pictures of Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman to pictures of the 1874 Transit of Venus Expedition to Tasmania. We are especially grateful to Victor Frenkel and David Cassidy for continuing to donate excellent photographs. The Archives also gratefully acknowledges gifts from M. Birnbaum, Roger A. Bell, Cecelia Brescia, Russell Donnelly, Richard Henry, Andrzej Herczynski, and George Wallerstein.

The Library continues to seek (and where need be, helps to pay for) recordings of reminiscences given as talks by scientists. Audio tape is preferred, since the long-term preservation and playback of videotape is highly problematic; however, a remarkable variety of talks are now being videotaped and we are glad to store these for as long as feasible.

The early years of nuclear energy are being vigorously recorded while founders are still with us. We received a video cassette entitled "The Italian Navigator Has Landed: A Half Century of Nuclear Energy" produced by Argonne National Laboratory in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of CP-1 (1992), and from the Los Alamos Historical Museum a video cassette (produced by the Los Alamos Historical Society) entitled "Remembering Los Alamos World War II" (1993). Three video cassettes including interviews by Kurt Gottfried with Hans Bethe, Victor Weisskopf, and Robert Wilson and a lecture by Bethe, "The German A-Bomb Project," were received from Kurt Gottfried and John Miner of Cornell University. Last but not least, Albert. E. Moyer sent us seven video cassettes recorded at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University during 1991 with reminiscences of six nuclear pioneers: Sigvard Eklund, Bertrand Goldschmidt, Robert E. Marshak, Glenn T. Seaborg, Gerald F. Tape, and Herbert F. York. Topics covered include the arms race, civilian vs. military control in post-war United States, peaceful uses of the atom and basic research, and international perspectives (research, development, and cooperation).

Other recent acquisitions include two video cassettes received from Richard N. Hey of the American Geophysical Union spring meeting (1992) session "Plate Tectonics: A 25th Anniversary Celebration." Speakers (in program order) are: R. N. Hey, E. Irving, R. Dietz, J. T. Wilson, W. C. Pitman, W. J. Morgan, D. McKenzie, X. Le Pichon, J. E. Oliver. One video cassette of a seminar presented by Chapin Cutler at Hughes Aircraft Company on the history of travelling wave tubes (1983) was received from Larry G. DeShazer. Also accessioned were twelve video cassettes of selected talks from meetings of the American Institute of Physics Corporate Associates, (1983-1987); speakers are: Wallace Broecker, D. Allan Bromley, Pierre Gilles De Gennes, Peter A. Franken, Riccardo Giacconi, John J. Hopfield, James Langer, Arthur L. Schawlow, Charles P. Slichter, Robert R. Wilson, and Leon Van Hove.

A number of films from our archives are now available on video cassette (we continue to preserve the films while using the video for easy researcher access). Film to video transfers include: the Acoustical Society of America's Twenty-fifth Anniversary Celebration (1954), transferred to six video cassettes by the ASA; David Dennison's home movies of the University of Michigan Summer School (1934), 1 video cassette transferred courtesy of Helen Weiss; Peter Van de Kamp's film of the dedication of McDonald Observatory (1939), one video cassette; and of very special value outtakes from Harvard Project Physics's documentary film "The World of Enrico Fermi" (1968) which includes a complete filmed interview with J. Robert Oppenheimer and outtakes from interviews with Emilio Segr and other prominent physicists who worked with Fermi in Rome. The transfer to 58 video cassettes (VHS and betacam master) was supported by a donation from Rosa Segr.

New audio recordings, joining the thousand already in our miscellaneous tapes collection, included: a session on the "Birth of the Nuclear Age, 50th Anniversary" at the American Physical Society Division of Nuclear Physics meeting of Oct. 1992; a History of Physics Forum "Anniversary of the Physical Review" and a banquet performance repeat of the 1952 performance of "The Physical Revue" at the joint APS-AAPT meeting of April 1993; a biological and medical physics session at the APS meeting of March 1994; an APS Science and Society Forum session on "Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear War" at the APS-AAPT meeting of January 1982, and "Reminiscences of Einstein" by Hanna Loewy-Kohler and Lilly Kahler [nd].


Books and Finding Aids

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The Niels Bohr Library relies entirely on its Friends for additions to its book collection, through their monetary gifts and still more through direct donations of books. Since our 1992 report, particularly valuable collections of physics textbooks and monographs have been donated by Kenneth Bainbridge and Margaret Bainbridge Robinson, John Bugosh, Nicholas Chako, Rose B. Halwer, Herbert C. Pollock, and by Virginia Trimble from her father's library. Others donated only a few books but ones important for filling holes in the collection; in particular we thank William R. Remington, Alex Harvey, and Melba Phillips for their good help.

One of the Library's most useful and unique collections is a set of finding aids (ranging from brief inventories to extensive guides) to papers and records held at other repositories. For United States repositories the Library has received new findings aids to the Nuclear Issues Archive at the University of California, San Diego's Central University Library, Dept. of Special Collections, and to the papers of: Reginald Aldworth Daly at the Harvard University Archives; Mildred Allen at Mount Holyoke College Archives; Sydney Chapman at the University of Alaska, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library; Subrahmanyan Chandra-sekhar at the University of Chicago; Sidney A. Bowhill and David Lazarus at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, University Archives; James Van Allen at the University of Iowa; George Eugne Uhlenbeck at the University of Michigan, Bentley Library; and Donald William Kerst at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, University Archives. Also finding aids to the records of the Hubble Space Telescope and the University of Wisconsin -- Madison Dept. of Medical Physics at the same repository.

From foreign repositories we have received finding aids for the records of Simon Fraser University. Dept. of Physics at Simon Fraser University, University Archives; the European Southern Observatory historical archives at the ESO Library, Munich, Germany; and the papers of: Eric Henry Stoneley Burhop at the University College Library, London, England; Otto Robert Frisch at Trinity College Library, Cambridge, England; Pieter Zeeman at the Rijksarchief in Noord-Holland, Harlem, Holland; and Toshiko Yuasa at Ochanomizu University, Institute for Women's Studies, Tokyo, Japan.


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AIP History Center Center for History of Physics
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