The Robert Dalton Harris, Jr. Collection of Atomic Age Ephemera (continued)
Contributed by Anne Bahde, Rare Books and History of Science Librarian
This final post continues our look at this marvelous new collection, the types of research resources it contains, and potential topics of inquiry supported by it. See last week’s announcement to explore other collection strengths and examples of ephemera.
Increased public awareness about the health and environmental dangers of radioactive fallout from nuclear tests is documented through fallout shelter designs, disaster plans, and guides for the layperson on radiation detection. The Harris materials add further depth to this topical area in SCARC’s collections, which also includes materials in the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, the History of Atomic Energy Rare Book Collection, and the Barton Hacker Papers.
A number of items relate to educating laypersons and/or students about nuclear energy and science, including school newsletters, curricula, comic books, exhibit guides, and manuals. These materials, with others from SCARC collections, can collectively show how atomic energy was introduced to a generation of children, teenagers, and young people whose lives would be affected by it.
The presence of the developing nuclear industries is asserted in the later 1940s through the next two decades, in the form of uranium prospecting materials, investment guides, company booklets, trade publications, and promotional materials. The growth of nuclear power is well represented in the form of brochures, postcards, and training guides.
Materials related to anti-nuclear activism are present from just after WWII and increase in number during the 1950s and 1960s, with organized protests and rallies advertised in posters, flyers, and leaflets. The late 20th century is reflected in ephemera related to nuclear-themed protest art and the space race, as well as satiric posters and postcards.
The Harris Collection of Atomic Age Ephemera provides moving examples of the presence of the atom in our lives, and tells this story from nearly every possible angle. The materials comprise broad coverage of many scientific, religious, cultural, industrial, political, environmental, and other aspects of nuclear history. Rarities and surprises abound in the collection. Particularly notable items include: a program to a lecture by Nicola Tesla lecture on Roentgen rays in 1897; restricted newspapers from Manhattan Project locations; an early offprint of an address to Los Alamos scientists by J. Robert Oppenheimer, dated November 1945; this moving tour map of Hiroshima from 1949; and much, much more! We look forward to seeing how this fantastic collection is used to support research and teaching at OSU.