The Blustine Collection

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February 11, 2020

The Blustine Collection

February Photos of the Month

In the very first weeks filling my new position, AV/Media Archivist, the library received emails from a potential donor of photographs. With the realization that it was now my job to handle things like donations, I responded to the donor- a gentleman named Martin Blustine- with both nervousness and excitement.

My nervousness, I quickly learned, was not necessary. Martin was very kind and eager to share any and all information he had surrounding the photos, which he himself had taken back in the 1970s with his Mamiya C330 medium format camera. As he sorted through his personal collection and found the photo negatives, he made high-resolution scans and sent them to me. I immediately saw that he was a very talented photographer and felt quite lucky that we could include his images in the visual archives (you’ll see what I mean in a moment!).

Furthermore, as he continued to share images with me, I continued to learn more about him. Martin is a physics graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. After receiving his master’s degree, he worked at Mount Holyoke as a physics instructor prior to moving to a career in industry. He also shared a few wonderful stories about Richard Feynman and Eugene Wigner with me. 

For the February Photos of the Month, I wanted to promote a few of the lovely images from our newly acquired Blustine Collection! I hope you will enjoy them as much as I have!

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Portrait of Mildred Allen at her 80th birthday celebration at Mount Holyoke College.

AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Blustine Collection, Gift of Martin Blustine

I just love this portrait of Mildred Allen! I must say it is my favorite from the new collection. Beyond simply being a very lovely shot, the visual archives only has a small handful of images of Allen, the well-known physicist who spent a large majority of her career at Mount Holyoke. I am so pleased to add one more! Martin took this photo in March 1974, at Mildred’s 80th birthday celebration. Here is a direct quote from Martin:

“I think that it is important to point out that Mildred Allen was vastly ahead of her time. I am sure that, as a woman in science, she faced incredible barriers, although she never admits to such in her interview.” 

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Samuel Goudsmit at a physics lecture event, Mount Holyoke College.

AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Blustine Collection, Gift of Martin Blustine

Here is a portrait of Samuel Goudsmit, who lectured at the Mount Holyoke physics department in March 1974. In our collection of Goudsmit’s papers, letters to the department of physics chairman Edward Philbrook Clancy (pictured below) show Goudsmit planning when he would arrive and what he would discuss in the lecture! I must give credit for this awesome connection to Martin! He looked through our digital collections and found the correspondence which confirmed the date of his picture.

Martin recommends the biographical film titled The Catcher Was a Spy, the story of Moe Berg and the Alsos Mission which features Samuel Goudsmit. As for me, I am currently reading Sam Kean’s novel, The Bastard Brigade, which is also about the Alsos Mission, so I am waiting until I’m done to check out the film! It is such a fascinating story; I really do recommend learning more about it! In addition to the film and book mentioned above, you can see Goudsmit’s involvement in the Alsos Mission close-up in our digitally available archival collection of his papers and correspondence.

Mount Holyoke College department of physics chairman Edward Philbrook Clancy converses at a lecture event.

AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Blustine Collection, Gift of Martin Blustine

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R. Bruce Partridge during a lecture.

AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Blustine Collection, Gift of Martin Blustine

Here is a shot of astronomer R. Bruce Partridge giving a lecture. Martin recalled that this photograph had been taken at Mount Holyoke in the early 1970s. Partridge later retired with emeritus status from Haverford College after serving on its faculty for 38 years! Quite recently, he was also awarded (alongside his team) the Gruber Prize for Cosmology for his contributions to the European Space Agency's Planck Satellite Project.

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Portrait of astrophysicist, Margaret Eleanor Burbidge.

AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Blustine Collection, Gift of Martin Blustine

Here is British-American astrophysicist Margaret Eleanor Burbidge! She was also a guest lecturer at the Mount Holyoke College physics department. A few highlights from Burbidge’s impressive career include having worked as Director of the Royal Observatory of Greenwich and President of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Last year- right around the time that Martin first emailed me about the photos- she turned 100 years old! I really enjoyed this article from Sky & Telescope which describes her life.

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Robert R. Wilson during a lecture at Mount Holyoke College.

AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Blustine Collection, Gift of Martin Blustine

Physicist, sculptor, and architect Robert Rathbun Wilson is shown here, lecturing at Mount Holyoke. He is best known for his work at the Los Alamos Laboratory during WWII and as the first director at Fermilab. I was interested to learn that Wilson practiced all his areas of expertise at Fermilab, not just physics. He designed many sculptures and architectural pieces to decorate the site. You can view many of his works here.

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Unidentified lecturer at Mount Holyoke College.

AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Blustine Collection, Gift of Martin Blustine

Lastly, a challenge! Martin and I tried to identify this lecturer, of whom he had taken quite a few pictures, but the mystery remains! To remind you, this was taken somewhere in the early 1970s at Mount Holyoke College.

Can you help us identify this physicist? If so, comment below or send in suggestions to nbl [at] aip.org. We would love to properly describe the photographs and to finally solve the mystery of the unidentified lecturer (queue X-Files music).      

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Martin witnessed and documented the lectures and celebrations of so many scientists during his time at Mount Holyoke. I’m so grateful that he was able to capture these images and that he is generous enough to share them with us all many years later. Thank you for joining me in viewing them for the February Photos of the Month!   

If you’d like e-mail notifications for the Photos of the Month, subscribe here.  

 

About the Author: 

Samantha Holland is the AV & Media Archivist. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in humanities with a concentration in English from the University of Hawai’i- West Oahu and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Maryland, College Park. One of her favorite books in the collection is The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom, by Graham Farmelo. 

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