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Nuclear History in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

Historical primary sources on nuclear history and atomic energy

Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, Peace Series: Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists

Within the Peace series of the Pauling Papers lies an important collection for studying the responses of scientists and the public to the atomic bomb and its potential for destruction. The Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists was founded by Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard in 1946, and was comprised of eight scientists, including Linus Pauling. The Committee's purpose was to educate the public on the dangers of nuclear warfare, while also promoting peaceful use of atomic energy and enabling peace in the world.

The collection held by the Special Collections and Archives Research Center contains public relations materials, financial records, internal committee files, and, most importantly, letters from everyday Americans responding to Einstein's appeal for funds. This correspondence demonstrates one angle of the public response to the possibility of nuclear war; writers often poignantly detail their personal, moral, or religious reasons for contributing funds to this effort. The ECAS also corresponded with social and political organizations, such as the United World Federalists and the League of Women Voters. Also included in the correspondence are materials to and from the National Committee on Atomic Information, showing the tense relationship between the two organizations.

Disarmament, Nonproliferation, and the Peace Movement: The Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, Peace Series

Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, Series 12, Peace: This section has been partitioned into eight thematic sub-sections that illustrate Linus Pauling's work and impact in topics of peace and humanism. The Peace holdings include:

  • materials on the 1st through 37th Pugwash conferences, as well as other international peace conferences
  • materials from hundreds of national and international activist groups working against nuclear testing and warfare, including SANE
  • correspondence and other materials related to several national and international petitions calling for an end to nuclear testing and nuclear war
  • correspondence, articles, and research materials related to the effects of radioactive fallout, radiation hazards, and nuclear waste and contamination
  • materials on civil defense and fallout shelters, including government publications, articles, pamphlets, and manuals
  • articles, typescripts, pamphlets, manuscripts, clippings, and booklets related to all aspects of nuclear issues

Notable items include the three-volume Bomb Test Petition to the United Nations, circulated by the Paulings and signed by 13,000 scientists worldwide, then submitted in 1958 to the United Nations; a mimeograph proof of the Smyth report; and unpublished manuscripts and typescripts from leading players in nuclear issues.

Personal Library of Ava Helen and Linus Pauling

The Personal Library of Ava Helen and Linus Pauling contains numerous materials related to the Paulings' work for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, and world peace.

Peace in the History of Atomic Energy Collection

The History of Atomic Energy Collection is our largest collection related to nuclear history. A number of titles in this collection related to the peace movement, disarmament, and nonproliferation.

Comprised of more than 3,000 books, serials, photographs, and cultural artifacts, this collection is a major resource for research on the political, scientific, economic, technolgocial, and social issues that have characterized the nuclear age. Dating from the late 19th century to the present day, the collection contains sixteen series, including topics such as: early scientific discoveries, the Manhattan Project and World War II, military aspects of atomic energy, civil defense, nuclear testing, modern nuclear engineering, the effect of the atomic age on society and culture, biographies of key figures in nuclear history, and fiction, poetry, drama, and music related to the atomic age. Cataloging for the collection is ongoing. Search for cataloged items via the Advanced Keyword search, or use the Control-F keyword search on the full inventory of the collection.