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Records of the Project on the History of Recent Physics, 1952-1982 (bulk 1960-1965)

Description of Collection

Repository

American Institute of Physics. Center for History of Physics.

College Park, MD 20740

Papers created by

American Institute of Physics. Center for History of Physics.

Size of collection

1.25 linear feet (2 manuscript boxes, 1 half-manuscript box)

Short description of collection

This collection contains reports, memoranda, correspondence, reprints and newspaper clippings relating to the early years of the Project on the History of Recent Physics, including the Biographical and Bibliographical Study of American Physicists and a study of industrial physics research.

Language(s) of collection

English

Unit ID

AR 277

Background of the Project on the History of Recent Physics

The Project on the History of Recent Physics arose out of the American Institute of Physics' Committee on the History and Philosophy of Physics. Initial funding for the Project came from National Science Foundation grants awarded in 1961 and 1963. Dr. W. James King was named Director of the Project in mid-1961. The early staff also included a full-time secretary and some part-time assistants. The project was overseen by an Advisory Committee chaired by Dr. Gerald Holton of Harvard University. Activities pursued included the collection of historical materials and biographical and bibliographical information on leading physicists. Dr. John J. Beer joined the Project on the History of Recent Physics in 1963 to coordinate the Project's collecting of information and archival material from industrial companies involved in physics research. He served as a staff consultant while still a member of the faculty at the University of Delaware and left the project in 1964 after generating a final report.

Scope and Contents of Collection

This collection brings together earlier, separate accessions of materials that document the origins of the AIP's Center for History of Physics. A major component of the Project on the History of Recent Physics was the Biographical and Bibliographical Study of American Physicists (subsequently abbreviated to BBA). This contains the lists of physicists from which biographical information was obtained, and documentation describing how the lists were compiled. Also included are the form letters requesting information sent out to physicists, and to various institutions inquiring about the location and content of archives and apparatus related to recent physics research. Included are the reports and background material on the statistical and demographical analysis of the BBA materials. There is also a collection of material on physics awards and the recipients, and lists of physicists to be interviewed and the related correspondence.

The John J. Beer Series contains his final report and correspondence relating to his work on the Project, including the correspondence and reports regarding personal visits to industries.

The collection contains more general information on the Project on the History of Recent Physics such as reports, overviews, and Advisory Committee minutes from 1961 to 1963 as well as publication and research guides to the Project's early history. There are also some miscellaneous items such as proceedings of a conference on nuclear physics in 1967, Advisory Committee minutes from 1981, and material from 1960 to 1965 relating to the Friends of the Niels Bohr Library, the establishment of the Niels Bohr Library, and the creation of a Center for the History of Physics.

Restrictions on Use and Access

No restrictions.

Use of primary source material in the Niels Bohr Library requires prior approval through an Application for Access, which includes a statement of research purpose and the names and addresses of two scholars as references. Access applications can be obtained by contacting the Library (telephone 301-209-3177; or e-mail nbl@aip.org). The application can also be printed from our website.

Selected Search Terms

These papers have been indexed in the International Catalog of Sources for History of Physics and Allied Sciences (ICOS) using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.

Persons

Beer, John Joseph, 1927-
Boercker, Fred.
Holton, Gerald James.
King, W. James.
Weiner, Charles.

Subject terms

Physicists -- Biographies.
Physics -- History -- Bibliography.
Physics -- History.
Physics -- Industrial applications.
Research, Industrial.

Genre terms

Awards.
Bibliographies.
Biographies.
Interviews.
Newsletters.
Pamphlets.
Reprints.

Arrangement/Organization of Collection

Organized into the following series: I. Executive Papers; II. The Biographical and Bibliographical Study of American Physicists; III. John J. Beer Papers; IV. Publications and Research Guides.

The material has been arranged by subject. The documents generated in the establishment and operation of the Project on the History of Recent Physics are collected in a series entitled Executive Papers. The Biographical and Bibliographical Study of American Physicists documents are collected together into their own series. The John J. Beer papers, focusing on physics research in industrial companies, are maintained intact in their own series. Finally, publications, article reprints, and institutional histories relating to the Project on the History of Recent Physics are collected together.

Material Separated from Collection

Duplicates were removed from the collection. Some were added to the Niels Bohr Library Institutional Histories collection.

Provenance and Acquisition Information

The John J. Beer papers were donated by Dr. Beer in 1995 while the other papers were accumulated from the American Institute of Physics.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Dr. Franklin Noll in October 2001.

Newspaper articles and deteriorating xerox copies were photocopied onto acid-free paper and the originals were removed from the collection. All materials were rehoused in archival quality, acid-free folders and boxes.

Related Collections

  • Darrow, Karl K. (Karl Kelchner), 1891-. Papers, 1872-1978 (bulk 1917-1972).
  • Intellectual Autobiography of R. Bruce Lindsay.
  • Appendix to the Intellectual Autobiography of R. Bruce Lindsay
  • American Institute of Physics. Office of the Director. Records of Elmer Hutchisson, 1948-1966, (bulk 1957-1964).
  • American Institute of Physics. Center for History of Physics. Ford Foundation Planning Study.
  • American Institute of Physics. Center for History of Physics. Records, 1961-1988.
  • American Institute of Physics. Center for History of Physics. Sources for the History of Modern Astrophysics Project. Records, 1977-1981.
  • Oral history interview with Karl K. Darrow, 1964 April 2 and 10 June.
  • Oral history interview with Robert Bruce Lindsay. 1964 May 6 and July 9.
  • Oral history interview with Henry Margenau, 1964 May 6.
  • Oral history interview with Robert S. Shankland, 1974 August 20 and 21.
  • Oral history interview with Cyril Stanley Smith, 1976 September 23.
  • Oral history interview with George Eugene Uhlenbeck, 1962 March 30 to 1963 December 9.

Administrative Information

Title

Finding Aid to the Records of the Project on the History of Recent Physics, 1952-1982 (bulk 1960-1965)

Sponsor

This finding aid has been encoded by the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics as part of a collaborative project supported by a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, an independent federal agency. Collaboration members in 2003 consisted of: American Institute of Physics, California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Rice University, University of Alaska, University of Illinois, and University of Texas.

Publisher

American Institute of Physics. Center for History of Physics.

One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740
nbl@aip.org

January 28, 2003

Encoding Information

Machine-readable finding aid encoded in EAD 2002 by Clay Redding on January 28, 2003. Any revisions made to this finding aid occurred as part of the editing and encoding process.

Series I. Executive Papers, 1960-1981

Contains documents generated in the establishment and operation of the Project on the History of Recent Physics; also miscellaneous items such as proceedings of a conference on nuclear physics (1967), Advisory Committee minutes (1981), and material on the Friends of the Niels Bohr Library, the establishment of the Niels Bohr Library, and the creation of the Center for History of Physics (1960-1965).

Box 1 Folder 1 Reports
Folder 2 Advisory Committee Minutes, 1961-1963, 1981
Folder 3 Niels Bohr Library and Center for the Study of the History of Recent Physics
Folder 4 Proceedings of a Conference on Nuclear Physics, 1967

Series II. The Biographical and Bibliographical Study of American Physicists, 1952-1975

Includes the lists of physicists from which biographical information was obtained, as well as documents relating to the process behind the effort. Includes reports of the statistical and demographic analysis of the archives, and a collection of material on physics awards and the recipients.

Box 1 Folder 5 Lists of Physicists
Folder 6 Documents on the Generation of the Lists of Physicists
Folder 7 Boercker Survey of the Biographical and Bibliographical Archive Files
Folder 8 Survey Form Letters
Box 2 Folder 1 Statistical Summary of the Biographical and Bibliographical Archive Files
Folder 2 Misc. Papers on the Collection of Biographical and Bibliographical Archive Material
Folder 3 Award-Winning Physicists: Lists, Notices, Letters
Folder 4 Interviews

Series III. John J. Beer Papers, 1963-1965

Contains Dr. Beer’s final report and correspondence relating to his work on industrial research in physics. Includes correspondence and reports regarding personal visits to companies involved in physics research.

Box 2 Folder 5 Project on the History of Recent Physics: Industrial Research
Folder 6 Correspondence Relating to the Project on the History of Recent Physics: Industrial Research
Box 3 Folder 1 Reports and Correspondence Relating to Individual Companies involved in the Project

Series IV. Publications and Research Guides, 1956-2001

This series contains publications, article reprints, and institutional histories relating to the Project on the History of Recent Physics.

Box 3 Folder 2 Publications
Folder 3 Articles and Institutional Histories