Congratulations to Mina Carson, whose biography of Ava Helen Pauling provides a long-awaited study of a crucial yet often-neglected figure in the history of science and peace activism.  Among its many merits is how well the book highlights the rich collections we have at Oregon State University.  Here’s the book the description.  It is so wonderful to see this book come to fruition.  Thank you, Mina Carson!

The story of Ava Helen Pauling—her rich career as an activist first for civil rights and liberties, then against nuclear testing, and finally for peace, feminism, and environmental stewardship—is best told in the context of her enduring partnership with her famous husband, Linus Pauling. In this long-awaited first biography of Ava Helen Pauling, Mina Carson reveals the complex and fascinating history behind one of the great love stories of the twentieth century. Continue reading

by Linda M. Richards*

My latest blog entry has been delayed due to theft! But before you read on, wondering, what does this have to do with the history of science, please keep in mind one of the greatest scientists of our time, Linus Pauling, believed that the structure of molecules and society determined behavior.

I have had trouble with my left foot since the one time I tried to be a hero. I worked my senior high school summer at the Lighthouse for the Blind in Napa Valley, California as a camp counselor.  One day, I was walking nearby the horse stalls when one of the horses started bucking with one of the blind campers on its back. In the nick of time, I grabbed the horse, the reins, and the camper, preventing disaster, but in exchange, my bare foot was smashed by the horse’s hoof.

Ever since, finding shoes I can walk in has been a challenge, and the shoes I brought to Europe have became excruciating to wear. This morning while I was doing my laundry, I jumped the tram and rode back to downtown where I had seen a cheaper shoe store to try on a pair and voila! While I was walking about testing my toes’ response to the sexy heels, my big, clunky purse walked off! Inside was my precious I-phone with 583 photos that had not been yet been put in the drop box to be saved, my apartment key, my eyeglasses, my favorite running jacket, my credit cards, and $100 in Swiss Francs. Continue reading

Richards is currently in Vienna, the headquarters of the IAEA

by Linda M. Richards*

May 1 is a real Worker’s holiday all over Austria, so today the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) was closed and there were no official NPT Preparatory Committee meetings. The NPT is the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Almost all the shops and businesses are closed, except for restaurants and–luckily–this internet cafe where I rented a computer for one Euro an hour to offer this humble blog piece.

This morning the members of the Japanese peace group Gensuikyo and Soku Gakkai International, both groups that supported Linus Pauling, invited the NGO NPT Prep Com participants to march with them in the massive worker’s rights parade with survivors of the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Continue reading

by Jindan Chen*

What’s in Hanford’s backyard? What cleanup has been accomplished, and what are the current challenges? What can you do about Hanford? These questions were presented to the Feb 23 open forum here at Oregon State University about the former plutonium production facility in Hanford, Washington.  Participants in the forum included representatives from the Oregon Department of Energy (Ken Niles), Washington Department of Ecology (John Price and Dieter Bohrmann) and the Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board (Max S. Power). Continue reading

Richards with Tadatoshi Akiba, mayor of Hiroshima

Linda M. Richards, Ph.D. student in History of Science at Oregon State University, has been awarded a prestigious dissertation improvement grant from the National Science Foundation.  She weathered the storm of a tough selection process and now is ready to take her research project on the road–literally.  She’ll be traveling by bus (!) to multiple locations throughout the United States, scouring libraries and archives as she goes.  She’ll also travel to Vienna, Austria, the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency.  Congratulations, Linda!  The abstract of her project is below:

Continue reading

The Oregon State University research magazine Terra carries an article by undergraduate student Ingrid Ockert, discussing the research of one of our advanced doctoral students, Linda Richards.

“Nothing could have prepared Linda Richards for her visit to the Navajo Nation in 1986. The landscape was littered with piles of uranium debris. Signs warning of radioactive contamination were hung on playgrounds and living areas. The water wasn’t safe to drink. Families were living in homes made of radioactive materials…” Read the full Terra article here.

Navajo scientist Perry H. Charley and Navajo elder Elsie Mae Begay joined with History of Science graduate student Linda Richards and others recently on a panel about radiation effects, held this April in Phoenix at the annual meeting of the American Society for Environmental History.  Charley brought samples of rock from Begay’s home, along with a Geiger counter, as an illustration of the high levels of radiation that Navajo peoples have lived with, and continue to live with, because of the long history of uranium mining on their lands.  Uranium mining falls disproportionately on the lands of indigenous peoples throughout the world, resulting in health problems accumulating over more than half a century of nuclear weapons and electricity production.   Continue reading

By Jacob Darwin Hamblin

Don Quixote attacked wind power and failed. (art by Gustave Dore)

The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan is a potent reminder of how vulnerable humans are to the shrugs and twitches of nature.

Nuclear power advocates are quick to say that the compromised Japanese reactors were of an old design. But Japan is a sophisticated, technologically savvy nation. If a nuclear catastrophe can happen there, it can and will happen anywhere. And it raises again the question of the kind of energy we should encourage on a state, nation and world scale. But for all the talk about safety, design, clean air and energy consumption, what’s often forgotten is a much deeper issue: the passage of time. (read more at

Ava Helen Pauling, antinuclear peace activist

Oregon State University Associate Professor of History Dr. Mina Carson is the third person this year to have presented work supported by the Resident Scholar Program at OSU Libraries.  A professor of American Social and Cultural History, Carson’s research interests have thus far included the Progressive and New Deal eras, the gay and lesbian movements and the recent history of women in music.  A licensed social worker, Dr. Carson has also written and lectured on the history of psychotherapy in western Europe and the United States.

Her latest project hits closer to home for those of us working in the Pauling collection:  Dr. Carson is in the early stages of researching and writing the first full-length biography of Ava Helen Pauling. (read more at PaulingBlog)