Category Archives: Nuclear History

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.

Friday Feature: the Oregon Archives Month 2013 debrief

Wow, what a month. Oregon Archives Month at OSU was a great mix of activities and opportunities for connecting with the community.

Good Morning America, 1988

Karl McCreary started off the month with a film showing on the 8th. He arranged for the transfer of several “films from the VHS vault,” including one of Benny and Bernice Beaver celebrating on the Memorial Union steps in 1988, former library director Rodney Waldren talking about the McDonald Room in 1984, and the always mysterious “Mr. Wizard.” These films aren’t online yet, but you can view them in our reading room (8:30 – 5:00, Monday – Friday).


Next on the docket was an event hosted in our reading room celebrating the 50th anniversary of Linus Pauling’s Nobel Peace Prize. History of Science Doctoral Student Linda Richards hosted a session on peace crane folding and early arrivals were able to explore some of our collections. Richards also gave an introduction to the panel featuring Tim Naftali, Jacob Darwin Hamblin, Christopher McKnight Nichols, and Joseph Orosco.  It was well-attended and Mina Carson took pictures you can find on Flickr (thanks to her for the one above). History of Science librarian Anne Bahde says “this is definitely something we’d will do again.”

We took a bit of a break before launching into back-to-back events to highlight the new Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives. The first was a fun Saturday afternoon brewery crawl, history lecture, and showings of both the documentary Oregon Brewed and all the Hopstories mini-documentaries. You can read about it and find great pictures on our Tumblr blog. A few days later we hosted the 8th annual Taste of the ‘Chives, our historic recipe cooking event, and you can read about that on our Tumblr blog as well. This year we featured recipes cooked with beer or beer ingredients. You can imagine how aromatic that was! Check out the KBVR news piece (check minute 3:15 for us).

Our final event was a celebration of OSU (and OSC) alumni during Homecoming Weekend. We held an open house and film showing on the 26th before the big game against Stanford. While the game was a bit of a bummer, the visitors weren’t! Student Mike Dicianna wrote up a nice blog post about the event and included some fun pictures of what our staff are calling “The Super Alums.”

I send out my thanks to all who attended and gratitude for all those who helped make it happen. It takes a lot of work to promote, organize, and host events like this, but I am lucky to work with a talented and engaged bunch of people who love sharing out history stories.

Remember you can see lots of event pictures in our Flickr sets.

Friday Feature: Nuclear History Research Guide

The Special Collections and Archives Research Center is pleased to share the first of our new research guides, which details our significant collection strengths in nuclear history and atomic energy.

The guide includes subtopics on:

The guide will expand as we begin processing on a few new accessions in SCARC, including further records of the Radiation Center, the papers of Radiation Center director Chih Wang, and a very special new collection arriving in the fall. Watch this space for updates, and for new research guides on other subject strengths. In the meantime, check out interesting selections from the atomic energy and nuclear history collections on SCARC’s Pinterest page.