AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXX, No. 2, Fall 1998


News from the Niels Bohr Archive, Copenhagen

by Finn Aaserud

The Niels Bohr Archive, repository of the papers of Danish physicist Niels Bohr as well as the papers of some of his closest colleagues, is reaching a milestone in its development. For many years only Bohr's scientific letters and manuscripts were properly cataloged and accessible to researchers. During the last few years, the Archive's numerous other collections have been organized and described thanks to the support from Danish and American Foundations, notably a five-year grant from the Mellon Foundation. This grant has enabled us, in particular, to provide descriptions of our collections in recent issues of the AIP Center's Newsletter (see "Documentation Preserved" article). The Archive also receives new collections. Among recent acquisitions are the papers of Niels Bohr's Nobel Prize winning son, Aage Bohr, as well as of Niels Bohr's assistant and close collaborator Stefan Rozental and of the prominent solid state physicist Allan Mackintosh.

In addition to increasing its holdings and providing descriptions of them, the Archive is improving its technical capabilities. A few years ago the Lounsbery Foundation provided a grant for microfilm and computer equipment, and the same foundation is presently financing the entry of the Archive's substantial photo collection onto the World Wide Web (with the aid of some technical support from the AIP History Center). In the course of 1999 the Archive expects to provide descriptions of its holdings, facilities, and projects on the Web.

At the same time, the long-term effort with which the Archive is perhaps most readily identified is nearing completion. The first volume of the Niels Bohr Collected Works appeared in 1972. The series, published by Elsevier in Amsterdam, has now reached volume 10. This volume, devoted to Bohr's philosophy, is edited by David Favrholdt, professor of philosophy at the University of Odense. It is expected to be out by the end of 1998, and there will remain only the last volume, documenting Bohr's political involvements and edited by the Archive's current director, Finn Aaserud. A major change in the Archive's facilities is also at hand. Owing to a relocation of the scientific staff of the Niels Bohr Institute, which houses the Archive, we will move into new quarters within the Institute toward the end of 1998. As a result the Archive will have at its disposal larger and more convenient quarters for its collections, and for the first time there will be a library for the Archive's increasing number of visitors. After a temporary interruption of the Archive's activities owing to the move, we hope to be able to accommodate more visitors. We also hope to continue expanding our seminar activity as well as our in-house research and publication efforts.

However, for the time being the Archive's financial situation is problematic. It is even doubtful whether the Archive can retain its full current staff, which in addition to the director comprises a secretary/librarian and a programmer/archivist, beyond New Year 1999. The Archive looks forward to continued collaboration with the international community of historians and archivists of science and is grateful for any moral or financial support.

For further information contact Finn Aaserud, Director, Niels Bohr Archive, Blegdamsvej 17, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark; phone +45 353 25219, Fax +45 353 25428, e-mail

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