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Nuclear History in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

Historical primary sources on nuclear history and atomic energy

Barton C. Hacker Papers, 1955-1995

The Barton C. Hacker Papers, 1955-1995 contain reports of and files on radiation exposure by members of the Armed Forces witnessing nuclear weapons tests in the years following World War II, stemming from Hacker's research for projects on dosimetry.

The papers document Hacker’s career as a historian of radiation safety, and primarily consist of materials related to his service as historian to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Dosimetry Research Project, beginning in 1979. The collection also contains general research materials, committee documents, and conference proceedings and papers.

Paul Emmett Papers, 1918-2001

The Paul Emmett Papers, 1921-2001: Emmett was part of the Manhattan Project and his collection contains correspondence and notebooks from this period.

Paul Emmett (1900-1985), a friend and colleague of Linus Pauling, graduated in 1922 from Oregon Agricultural College and completed his doctoral work on heterogeneous catalysis at Caltech in 1925. A major figure in the history of catalysis chemistry, Emmett was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1955 and worked at a handful of institutions, including The Johns Hopkins University, where he chaired the Chemical Engineering Department until his retirement in 1971. More generally, the collection houses Emmett's manuscripts, research notebooks, correspondence and awards.

Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Testing, and the Arms Race

Both print and archival sources in SCARC contain extensive documentation of the United States nuclear testing program. From the development of the first nuclear weapons by the Manhattan Project through the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the close of World War II, materials cover all aspects of nuclear proliferation and the arms race, including arms control, strategic doctrine, nuclear war, and the intersection between military and civilian aspects of atomic energy.

Suggested keywords: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Manhattan Project, Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, atom* bomb, hydrogen bomb, missile, nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons testing, nuclear warfareradioactive fallout, Nevada test site.

Charter Heslep Papers, 1932-1963

The Charter Heslep Papers, 1932-1963:

The Charter Heslep Papers are primarily comprised of materials dating from Heslep's time as an employee of the Atomic Energy Commission. The collection includes correspondence, speeches, ephemera, photographs, and sound recordings relating to Charter Heslep's work with the AEC, with emphasis on his efforts to televise U.S. nuclear tests on behalf of the Commission.

Series I is composed predominantly of letters to and from Charter's wife, Margaret, between 1950 and 1958. Their correspondence includes personal and family news, descriptions of Heslep's work on behalf of the Atomic Energy Commission, and extensive correspondence dating from Heslep's observation of nuclear tests in Nevada (1952 and 1953) and the Marshall Islands (1956). Notably, Heslep provides detailed descriptions of activities surrounding the Tumbler-Snapper Charlie test, the Upshot-Knothole Annie test, and the Redwing Lacrosse and Cherokee tests--the first thermonuclear drop--including setup of broadcast relays, weather reports, the detonations of nuclear devices, and life at Camp Mercury and aboard the USS Mount McKinley. The series also includes several letters to the Heslep children, a telegram regarding a cancelled meeting with Harry S. Truman, correspondence granting clearance for Heslep to attend the Eniwetok-Bikini Atolls tests, and a letter to Captain H. G. Rickover describing plans for Heslep to author a book on nuclear submarines.

Series III: Ephmera, contains articles written by Heslep on the televising of nuclear tests, several certificates of participation from Oak Ridge Laboratories, Operation Teapot, and Operation Redwing, and a news sheet printed on board the USS Mount McKinley.

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 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

Series of note for this topic:

Subseries 5: Nuclear Bomb Test and Proliferation Petitions

Subseries 7: The Debate over Nuclear Fallout and Contamination

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.


Eugene Starr Papers, 1911-1988

The Eugene Starr Papers, 1911-1988

Starr was selected to be one of twenty scientific observers at Operation Crossroads in 1946, and his papers include a  folder of correspondence, ephemera, and other papers related to his attendance at and impressions of that event.

Eugene Starr enjoyed a widespread reputation as a distinguished scientist and engineer. A 1923 graduate of Oregon Agricultural College, he achieved international recognition for his work in the fields of electrical engineering and nuclear physics. In 1958 Starr was awarded the Department of the Interior's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, for his work with the Bonneville Power Administration. Starr's papers include personal correspondence and scientific reports, with a focus on his work in nuclear fission and the transmission of high-voltage electricity.