AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXVII, No. 2, Fall 1995

 

Niels Bohr Library Acquires Variety of Source Materials


A Look Ahead
Manuscript Materials
Oral History Interviews
Manuscript Biographies and Institutional Histories
Audio-Visual Materials
Books and Finding Aids

The Niels Bohr Library of the AIP has become widely known as a repository for historical source materials that are otherwise dispersed or even discarded, ranging from old textbooks to student class notes to finding aids for collections in other repositories. The materials that find their way to our shelves are remarkably varied, and many of them arrive simply because someone has recommended the Library to a colleague. Of course the staff also makes constant efforts to save useful documentation. Examples of such efforts include searches launched when we receive requests for a portrait of a scientist and have none, and a regular scanning of the programs of meetings of AIP Member Society for talks including historical reminiscences, which we arrange to have tape-recorded.

The most notable collection received this past year is a set of oral history interviews covering the mass-extinction controversy. The debate over possible astronomical or geophysical causes for the mass extinction that ended the age of the dinosaurs--notably the proposal that the impact of a comet wrecked the ecosystem--has been one of the most hard-fought and potentially revolutionary developments in physical science of the past decade. Its ramifications extend from the outer solar system (if the impact of comets is, as some suggest, periodic) to the earth's core (if mass extinctions are in fact due to huge volcanic eruptions). Under NSF grants administered by the AIP Center, William Glen has followed this controversy from its first moments, gathering documents and tape-recording interviews with participants. His collection of materials provides probably the most detailed snapshot in existence of a scientific debate observed in progress. Virtually every astronomer, paleontologist, etc. involved in the debates was interviewed, many of them at intervals as the controversy developed. Glen has now deposited copies of the tapes in the Niels Bohr Library. For 82 of the persons interviewed there are agreements covering access--most but not all stipulating no restrictions--while for 51 the process of arranging agreements is still in progress. This collection will doubtless see heavy use by scholars over centuries to come. Glen himself has published the first of a projected three-book series based in large measure on the interviews (The Mass Extinction Debates: How Science Works in a Crisis, Stanford University Press, 1994).

o MANUSCRIPT MATERIALS

The Library has an extensive collection of lecture notes taken by students in physics and astronomy courses, a unique window into the character and development of education in these fields. During the past years the collection was augmented by notes that Gibson Reaves took of astrophysics courses taught by Louis G. Henyey at the University of California Berkeley, 1947-1950, 3 vols.; by Joe Tenn from a solid state physics course taught by Arthur Schawlow at Stanford University, 118 pp., 1962; and a lecture series on nuclear physics from Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, 329 pp., 1943-1946, donated by Dorothy Cieslicki. We also received laboratory manuals written by Philip J. Hart and Eugene Gardner for courses in experimental physics at Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University), 1933-1950, 4 notebooks; Al Wattenberg sent us copies of notes, prepared by John Wheeler, from the 1948 Pocono Conference, 83 pp., and from John Toll we received proceedings from the 3rd and 5th Rochester Conferences on High Energy Physics (1952, 1955) among other reports. From Janet Barton we received materials (including Ms. Barton's photographs and cassette tapes of talks of reminiscences) from the Symposium commemorating the Centennial of Niels Bohr held at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1985, 0.5 lin. ft. We received additions to the Gravity Research Foundation collection (1995 essay submissions), 0.5 lin. ft.; and, from Hans Reiche, additions to the Fritz Reiche Papers, 1908-1961, 0.5 lin. ft.

Among the interesting miscellaneous items received this past year were press releases from Westinghouse relating to the construction and support of the 200-inch telescope at Palomar Observatory, 1938, 0.5." (received from Mary Ann Mogus); excerpts of a manuscript by Daniel G. Loomis entitled "Speculations in Nuclear Forces," 1" (from Hans Reiche); "Report of the 1983 Subpanel on new facilities for the U.S. High Energy Physics Program of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel" (regarding the initiation of the Super Collider), 65 pp. (from John Blewett); correspondence and other items from William R. Busing dating from his presidency of the American Crystallographic Association, 1970-1972, 0.5"; and some correspondence and biographical material from David Middleton relating to John Van Vleck.

AIP and Member Society records accessioned included records of the AIP's Office of the Director, records relating to the Chaos Conferences and the AIP Corporate Associates, 1991-1994, 3 lin. ft., and records of the American Astronomical Society's History of Astronomy Division, 2 lin. ft. (from David Devorkin). The American Association of Physics Teachers and Leonard Jossem deposited the records of the Commission on College Physics, ca. 1960-1971, 60 lin. ft.

o ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEWS

The AIP Center is serving as administrative base for an NSF grant to Ron Doel for study of the emergence of geophysics in American academia. In connection with this he is also studying international relations in geophysics and space science, particularly during the Cold War. As part of this work, during the past year Doel conducted oral history interviews with Viktor Abalakin, Duncan Carr Agnew, Richard T. Arnold, A.I. Eremeeva, Cecil H. Green, Alexander Gurshtein, J.B. Koepfil, Gordon MacDonald, Thomas F. Malone, Frederick Seitz and Marie Tharp.

The Center provided transcription for an extensive series of autobiographical interviews that John Elder conducted with Peter Glaser. A set of videotapes on Physicists in Medicine are reported below under "Audio-visual materials--Videotapes." Other interviews not previously reported in this Newsletter, mainly conducted with the help of AIP grants-in-aid, were: Tony F.W. Embleton by David Quirt; Ira Hirsch by David Green; Koichi Kitazawa and Shoji Tanaka by Bing Liu; Arthur Lane by Joe Tatarewicz; Oleg Lavrent'ev by Yuri Ranyuk; Gordon McDonald by James Fleming; Daniel W. Martin by John Kopec; Harry B. Miller by Dan Martin; David H. Sharp by Finn Aaserud; Louis C. Sutherland by Ken Plotkin and Adnan Waly by Martin Pope and John Dropkin.

o MANUSCRIPT BIOGRAPHIES AND INSTITUTIONAL HISTORIES

The Center's collection of unpublished biographical and autobiographical materials is growing more rapidly than ever. We received a manuscript by T. J. Dolan on Oleg Aleksandrovich Lavrent'ev's struggles as a Soviet physicist; a manuscript by Philip J. Hart on John Vincent Atanasoff and the Electronic Digital Computer, 1994; a memoir by François Ulam about her life with Stanley Ulam (both were at Los Alamos), 1994; a scientific autobiography by Dieter Kurath; Robert Sard's recollections of the Ehrenfest family, 1994 (from Al Wattenberg); a description of Academician Nikola Pavlovich Barabashov from the conference for his centenary, 1994; and a brief written recollection and biographical material relating to Albert Anderson Ardal, 1995 (from William H. Wehrmacher).

Unpublished or otherwise difficult-to-find materials on institutional history added to our collection this year include: the Associated Universities proposal that Brookhaven National Laboratory be the site for the 200 BEV Accelerator, 1966; a history of the Yerevan Physics Institute (Armenia), 1943-1993; an outline of the aims of the Association of New York Scientists, 1947; S. G. Bankoff's recollections of the startup of the first Hanford Nuclear Reactor, 1994; Catherine Westfall and Curtis M. Brooks' manuscript on the founding of the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility, 1994; David Anderson's brief history of the George Washington University Dept. of Physics, 1994; a description of selected innovation projects in the field of physics in Belarus (by Voma Scientific Innovation Company), 1994; Zh. I. Alferov and V. Ya. Frenkel's manuscript on the A. F. Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute and its publication of physical journals; a short history of the University of Hawaii Dept. of Physics, ca. 1994; the Optical Society of America at 75 by John N. Howard, 1991; two short histories by F. B. Stumpf on the Central Ohio Chapter of the Acoustical Society of America and the Appalachian Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers; two accounts by M ximo Baron on physics at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1986 and 1994. In addition we added four more European Space Agency history publications to our set; they deal with the ESRO telecommunications programme, U.S.-European cooperation during the 1960s and during the post-Apollo program, and the scientific program between ESRO and ESA from 1973-1977.

o AUDIO-VISUAL MATERIALS

The Emilio Segrè Visual Archives continues to expand as generous donations of photographs are received from scientists and their families. We are most grateful to Mrs. Rosa Segrè, who donated over fifty photos of people from Los Alamos. The photos were taken, for the most part, by Emilio Segrè during the time of the Manhattan Project. In addition, we wish to thank Mrs. Rose Bethe for a gift of over thirty photos from the collection of her father, Paul P. Ewald. A valuable part of the collection are reference photos for which we cannot make copies ourselves; we make researchers aware of them and send those who need copies to the copyright holder. Robert Palmer kindly donated copies of over ninety excellent informal portraits he has taken of scientists at meetings, conferences, etc., chiefly in high-energy physics. In addition, a beautiful set of Albert Einstein photos taken by Lotte Jacobi was received through a combined effort of Gerald Holton, Leon Blitzer and A. Richard Kassander.

Manuscript collections have been another important source of photos. Two recently processed collections, the Karl K. Darrow papers and the Nancy Grace Roman papers, have included large photo collections as well as manuscript materials. We also gratefully acknowledge gifts from Victor Frenkel, Robert Lindsay, Wolfgang Panofsky, Norman Ramsey, Françoise Ulam, Rolf Wideröe, and Emil Wolf. In addition we thank AIP's Member Society presidents and presidents-elect for donating portraits of themselves to the AIP Gallery of Member Society Presidents.

Film and video. We received 13 reels of film of Richard Feynman's Messenger Lecture series "The Character of Physical Law" at Cornell University, 1964 (from John Free, also commercially available); and 1 reel of film from the American Astronomical Society Education Office, "Science and Engineering TV Journal." We also accessioned 5 videotapes from a series "Vignettes of Early Radiation Workers" by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1977- ca. 1980 (from Edward Landa); the Cornell University Department of Physics celebration of Hans Bethe's first 60 years at Cornell, 1 videotape, 1995 (from Robert Rieger--contact the Cornell Department of Physics to purchase copies); and video interviews conducted by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine History Committee with John Laughlin, Gail Adams, Craig Sunan, John Lenihan, Donald Kerst, Juan Del Regato, and Jack Fowler, 8 videotapes, 1990-1993.

Miscellaneous Tapes. We received 29 cassettes of sessions from the International Conference on the History of Original Ideas and Basic Discoveries in Particle Physics, Sicily, 1994; "A tribute to John Verhoogen" from the American Geophysical Union fall meeting, 1 cassette, 1994; ceremonial sessions from the American Association of Physics Teachers winter meeting including the Oersted Medalist Address by Robert Beck Clark and the Richtmyer Lecture by Joseph Henry Taylor, 2 cassettes, 1995; the American Association for the Advancement of Science Colloquium session "Science--The Endless Frontier Plus Five: Decisive Impacts of the Early Cold War," 2 cassettes, 1995; memorial sessions for Eugene Wigner and Julian Schwinger at the American Physical Society/American Association of Physics Teachers joint meeting, 4 cassettes, 1995; the Harvey Fletcher memorial sessions on "Psychological and Physiological Acoustics" from the Acoustical Society of America spring meeting, 6 cassettes, 1995; and lectures by Silvan Schweber and Freeman Dyson from the symposium "Celebrating 60 Years at Cornell with Hans Bethe," 1 cassette, 1995 (from John Miner). In addition we received, from Rose Bethe, a 7" tape of Max von Laue's 80th birthday party, 1959.

o BOOKS AND FINDING AIDS

While the Niels Bohr Library is able to purchase older books thanks to the annual monetary gifts from its Friends, even more important is the direct donation of volumes. Mr. and Mrs. E.J. and N.M. Dowdy donated several hundred books, many dealing with the fight to control nuclear weapons. John Blewett donated 30 physics books and Stephen Brush donated 16 volumes, largely historical works. Individual books on a variety of topics, not otherwise easily obtained, were donated by Achim M. Loske, Jrgen Renn, Edward Landa, Philip J. Hart, and Adolfus Dargys--this list of donors spans countries from Mexico to Lithuania.

Researchers visiting the Library find it useful to peruse the large collection of finding aids and inventories to collections around the world. From U.S. repositories the Library has received new finding aids to the Archives of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the Dudley Observatory Archives in Schenectady, New York, and an updated finding aid to the Archives of American Mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin. Finding aids have also been received to the papers of: Harold Grad and Serge Korff at the New York University Archives; Llewellyn Thomas at the North Carolina State University Archives; Robert J. Cashman at the Northwestern University Archives; Fritz Rohrlich at Syracuse University Archives; Floyd Watson at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, Archives; Arthur Rich and William L. Williams at the University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library; James Arnold, Keith Brueckner (administrative records), and Leo Szilard (updated finding aid) at the University of California, San Diego, Dept. of Special Collections; and Carl Henry Eckart at the Archives of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. From foreign repositories we have received Volume 2 of the catalog to the Sakata Memorial Archival Library, Nagoya University, Japan, and finding aids to the papers of: Robert Boyle (manuscripts and microfilm) at the Royal Society, London, England; Sir David Chilton Phillips at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, England; Bertil Lindblad at Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien Centrum för vetenskapshistoria, Sweden; and Rolf Wideröe at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Zürich, Switzerland.

Most libraries discard science books when they are no longer up-to- date. The Niels Bohr Library book collection has achieved its notable status as a repository for hard-to-find works largely through generous donations from the collections of scientists. We especially seek significant older textbooks and monographs in geophysics (covering a variety of fields from meteorology to vulcanology); we began building collections in these fields only recently, after the American Geophysical Union joined the AIP as a Member Society, and still have many gaps.


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