Department of Energy Assembles Archives
on Human Radiation Experiments
During the past year the Department of Energy mobilized a large number of historians and archivists to provide full public access to the problematic history of human radiation experiments in the United States [see AIP History of Physics Newsletter 26, no. 1 (Spring 1994), p. 1]. The Office of Human Radiation Experiments, established in March 1994, is now drawing on this extensive historical and archival work to publish descriptions and provide direct access to documents some of them only recently declassified. From the Office, Bill
This project has taken an innovative approach in implementing basic archival and records management principles. DOE has about 3.2 million cubic feet of records at sites across the country, and most of them are not under intellectual control: little is known about what is in the files or what specific files each site has. Over the last year, we were able to determine that the most important subset of material consisted of about 75,000 cubic feet in several hundred individual records series. We prepared individual series descriptions for these records and copied around 150,000 individual pages of particular significance. The primary goal was to gain intellectual control over the most important series to permit more focused searches and to effectively manage the records, including eventual transfer to archival custody. We view this as a model approach to dealing with the huge and largely undifferentiated mass of post-war Federal records that are now under minimal (if any) records management control.
Interested parties may wish to take a look at either our recent publication,
Human Radiation Experiments: The Department of Energy Roadmap to the
Story and the Records, or our Internet World Wide Web Home Page at
We produced these as part of Secretary of Energy Hazel R. O'Leary's openness
initiative, which aims to make departmental information available to the
public. For more information, contact Bill LeFurgy at the Office of Human
Radiation Experiments, Department of Energy, EH-8, 1000 Independence Avenue,
SW, Washington, DC 20585; phone (202) 254-5020.