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American Institute of Physics. Office of the Director. Records of Van Zandt Williams, 1964 - 1966

Description of Collection


American Institute of Physics. Center for History of Physics.

Papers created by

American Institute of Physics. Office of the Director.

Size of collection

3 linear feet
6 Hollinger box

Short description of collection

This collection consists of files generated by Williams, during his tenure as Executive Director of the American Institute of Physics.

Language(s) of collection


Collection number:


Biographical Note

Van Zandt Williams was born in Providence, Rhode Island on March 29, 1916. He completed his A.B. degree at Brown University in 1937 and his Ph.D. in physics at Princeton University in 1941. He then joined the Stamford Research Laboratories of the American Cyanamid Corporation, where he was a group leader in charge of infrared spectroscopy, and later assistant director of the physics division. He joined The Perkin-Elmer Corporation in 1948 as Director of Instrument Development and Sales. He was elected a vice president of the company in 1957, and three years later he became Vice President in Charge of Technical Development, with responsibility for the company's entire research and development effort. At Perkin-Elmer, Williams guided the design and rapid manufacture of commercial infra-red spectrometers and other optical instruments, some of which have become classical and have acquired universal fame. He was the 1966 President of the Optical Society of America (OSA) and headed a study which pointed out a lack of adequately trained optics personnel, and recommended an action program in optics designed to stimulate research and education in the field. He established a full time research and education office. He was named by the OSA to lead the program and to coordinate the activities of its task forces, which are variously concerned with graduate research, undergraduate education and the training of opticians and technicians. Williams was named director of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) in April 1965. His focus was developing an information retrieval system for physics, but he was also concerned with services to member societies, physics education programs, and the initiation and development of the Center for the History and Philosophy of Physics. Williams' publications reflect his interest in infrared spectroscopy, optics, and physics information systems. A bibliography may be found in Series X of this collection. The articles he supervised concerning physics information systems may be found in Series V. Van Zandt Williams died in May of 1966, shortly after his first year as director, while visiting the Institution of Electrical Engineers in London about physics information systems. Ralph Sawyer assumed the role of acting director until December 1966 when H. William Koch became AIP's new director.

Scope and Contents of Collection

This collection consists primarily of correspondence on various topics, including education-related matters such as the teaching of college and pre-college physics; the regional counselors program and career placement; the development of an information system for physics literature; and correspondence, minutes, and reports of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Advisory Committee on Physics Abstracts. Other topics include public relations, the seminars for science writers, and the establishment of the Center for History of Physics as a division of the AIP. The collection also contains biographical material, obituaries, and letters of condolence on Williams. Correspondents include: Ferdinand G. Brickwedde, Dwight E. Gray, Elmer Hutchisson, William C. Kelly, Eugene H. Kone, Vincent E. Parker, and Hugh C. Wolfe.Much of the material in the collection is of a routine nature. A large proportion of the collection is copies of correspondence and reports generated by others and sent to the director for his information. Other materials reflect Williams' personal interests and involvements. The grant seeking, receiving, and reporting activities were continued with the enthusiasm initiated under the Elmer Hutchisson directorship.

Restrictions on Use and Access

Permission of an officer of depositing organization required for access to records less than 25 years old.

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.


Brickwedde, F. G. (Ferdinand Graft), 1903-
Gray, Dwight E., 1903-
Hutchisson, Elmer, 1902-
Kelly, William Clark, 1922-
Kone, Eugene H.
Parker, Vincent Eveland.
Sawyer, Ralph Alanson, 1895-
Williams, Van Zandt, 1916-1966.
Wolfe, Hugh C.


American Institute of Physics. Office of the Director.

Subject terms

Physics. Information services.
Physics. Public relations.
Physics. Societies, etc.
Physics. Study and teaching.

Provenance and Acquisition Information

The collection was transferred to the Niels Bohr Library & Archives in 1987.

Preferred Citation of Collection

Box [number], Folder [number], American Institute of Physics. Office of the Director. Records of Van Zandt Williams. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, College Park, MD 20740, USA.

Administrative Information


Finding Aid to the American Institute of Physics. Office of the Director. Records of Van Zandt Williams1964 - 1966


Niels Bohr Library & Archives American Institute of Physics.

One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740


Encoding Information

Machine-readable finding aid encoded by Melanie J Brown in 1989. Any revisions made to this finding aid occurred as part of the editing and encoding process.

Series I: AIP internal organization and awards

Box 1 Folder 1 Constitution Revisions, March 1964
Folder 2 American Institute of Physics Inc. - Annual Meeting - Minutes, 1965-1966
Folder 3 Awards - D. Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics - Freeman J. Dyson, February-June 1965
Folder 4 Awards - D. Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics - Nikolai N. Bogolyubov, February-May 1966
Folder 5 Hutchisson, Elmer - Correspondence, 1963-1968
Folder 6 Personnel - Correspondence, July-October 1965
Folder 7 Personnel - Director's Dept. - Attendance Report , 1966
Folder 8 Projection Reports, 1965-1968
Folder 9 Property Committee - Correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 10 Search for Director - Education and Manpower Division - Correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 11 Search for Director - Information Planning - Correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 12 Search for Director - Ralph Sawyer File, January 1964-August 1966
Folder 13 Washington Office - Dwight Gray - Correspondence, January-September 1966

Series II: Education and Manpower

Box 1 Folder 14 Careers in Physics Publications - General correspondence, 1963-1965
Folder 15 The Physicist in Industry (career booklet) - Correspondence, April-November 1965
Folder 16 Center for Educational Apparatus in Physics - General correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 17 Center for Educational Apparatus in Physics - Grant report and correspondence, 1964-1965
Folder 18 Check List of Books for an Undergraduate Physics Library - Related correspondence, 1965
Folder 19 Committee on Physics Facilities in Colleges - Grant correspondence, 1964-1966
Folder 20 Doctoral Programs in Physics - Grant correspondence, August-December 1965
Box 2 Folder 21 General correspondence, February-November 1965
Folder 22 General correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 23 Manpower Advisory Committee - Correspondence and agenda, 1964-1965
Folder 24 Manpower Project - NSF correspondence, 1965-1970
Folder 25 Pre-College Physics Program - General correspondence, 1964-1966
Folder 26 Pre-College Physics Program - Newsletters, August-October 1965
Folder 27 Pre-College Physics Program - Report, minutes and newsletter, 1965-1966
Folder 28 Pre-College Physics Program - Corporate Associates Committee - Correspondence re. Regional counselors, 1965-1966
Folder 29 Regional Counselor Program - General correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 30 Regional Counselor Program - General Electric Grant correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 31 Secondary School Physics Education - Meggars, (William F.) Fund - Correspondence, 1964-1968
Folder 32 Student Sections Advisory Committee Meeting - Minutes and correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 33 Student Sections Awards Program - Correspondence and report, 1965-1966
Folder 34 Student Sections/ Sigma Pi Sigma - Correspondence re. affiliation, 1965-1966
Folder 35 Study of the Teaching of Physics - Grant correspondence, 1964-1966
Box 3 Folder 36 Undergraduate Education Program - Correspondence re. creation of program, 1965-1966
Folder 37 Visiting Scientists Program in Physics - Colleges - General correspondence, 1965-1970
Folder 38 Visiting Scientists Program in Physics - Colleges - Grant reports (1964-1965), 1963-1966
Folder 39 Visiting Scientists Program in Physics - Colleges - Grant reports (1966-1972), 1965-1971
Folder 40 Visiting Scientists Program in Physics Advisory Committee Meetings - Agenda, minutes, and correspondence, 1961-1971
Folder 41 Teacher Education and Professional Standards National Conference - General correspondence, 1964-1965

Series III: Physics history

Box 3 Folder 42 Project for History of Recent Physics in the U. S. - Correspondence, 1965-1967
Folder 43 Project for History of Recent Physics in the U. S. - Center for History of Physics - Correspondence, 1964-1965

Series IV: Journal publications

Box 4 Folder 44 Advertising - Correspondence, 1965-1966

Series V: Physics information

Box 4 Folder 45 Ad Hoc Committee, June-October 1965
Folder 46 AIP/ IEE Plans for Physics Information Services, 1965
Folder 47 Editing Proceedings of the International Conference on Classification Research - Grant correspondence, April-July 1965
Folder 48 General correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 49 M. A. Libby and D. E. Gray - General correspondence, November-December 1966
Folder 50 NSF Proposal - Background material, 1965-1966
Folder 51 NSF Proposal - Distribution - Correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 52 Physics Information Exchange (PIE) - Moravicsik proposal, February-June 1966
Folder 53 Physics Today - Articles and correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 54 Universal Decimal Classification as an Indexing Language for Mechanized Reference Retrieval System" - Correspondence and reports re. Grant 433, 1965-1969
Folder 55 V. Z. Williams trip to London - Correspondence, February-May 1966

Series VI: Science abstracts

Box 5 Folder 56 AIP Committee on Physics Abstracts - General correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 57 AIP Committee on Physics Abstracts - Minutes and agenda of meetings, 1965-1966
Folder 58 AIP Committee on Physics Abstracts - Reports, 1964-1965
Folder 59 IEE Science Abstracts Editorial Advisory Committee - Correspondence, minutes and reports , 1965-1967

Series VII: Public relations

Box 5 Folder 60 General correspondence, 1964-1970
Folder 61 Journal Project - Correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 62 Seminars for Science Writers - Correspondence, 1965-1967
Folder 63 Seminars for Science Writers - Report to NSF, 1965

Series VIII: Member Societies

Box 5 Folder 64 American Association of Physics Teachers - Commission on College Physics - Correspondence, 1964-1966
Folder 65 American Association of Physics Teachers - Commission on College Physics - Minutes of meetings, 1965-1966
Folder 66 American Association of Physics Teachers - Correspondence re. transfer of Washington office activities to AIP, 1965
Folder 67 American Physical Society - Council minutes, 1965-1966

Series IX: General subject files

Box 5 Folder 68 American Association for the Advancement of Science - Correspondence, May-June 1965
Folder 69 American Society of Metals Science Teacher Achievement Recognition Program - Corr. re. AIP support, August-September 1965
Folder 70 College of Electors of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans - Albert Michelson, 1965
Box 6 Folder 71 Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, 1965-1967
Folder 72 Engineering Index, Inc. - Proposal to NSF , 1965-1966
Folder 73 International Congress on Magnetism and Magnetics - Correspondence, 1965-1966
Folder 74 MOSS Meetings - Correspondence, 1965-1967
Folder 75 Smithsonian Foundation - Bicentennial Celebration, March-September 1965
Folder 76 Unusual correspondence, September-November 1965

Series X: Official files

Box 6 Folder 77 Condolence messages, May 1966
Folder 78 Miscellaneous - Article on diabetes, security questionnaires, information re. passport, 1959-1966
Folder 79 Obituaries and notices, May-July 1966
Folder 80 Personal correspondence and insurance claim documentation, 1965-1966
Folder 81 Publications, presentations and biographies - Articles and listings, January-November 1965
Folder 82 82 Sawyer, R. A. - Photo (photocopies), [undated]
Folder 83 83 Williams, V. Z. - Photos (photocopies), circa 1965