Working Inventory of the Robert E. Marshak Papers, 1947-1990 Marshak, Robert E., Papers Ms1988-060

Working Inventory of the Robert E. Marshak Paper, 1947-1990

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number Ms1988-060


[logo]

Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Special Collections, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
USA
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
Email: specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/

© 2010 By Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. All rights reserved.

Processed by: Special Collections Staff

Repository
Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
Collection Number
Ms1988-060
Title
Working Inventory of the Robert E. Marshak Papers, 1947-1990
Physical Characteristics
65.1 cu. ft. 65 boxes; 1 oversize folder
Creator
Marshak, Robert Eugene, 1916-1992
Location
Please note:This collection is located in off-site storage and may require 2-3 days notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information.
Language
English
Abstract
The collection consist of Marshak's files on the Shelter Island Conferences (1947-49) and his administrative and correspondence files on the Rochester Conferences on High-Energy Physics (1950-57), which he founded. The papers also includes correspondence, notes, reports, files, speech texts, newsclippings, autographs, photographs, transcripts, and other personalia donated in 1994--these materials are unprocessed.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from Robert E. Marshak Papers must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Robert E. Marshak Papers, Ms88-060, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.

Acquisition Information

The Robert E. Marshak Papers were acquired by the Special Collections Department of the Virginia Tech University Libraries in two separate donations. The first 5 cubic feet of materials (Boxes 1-5), also known as the Rochester Conference Papers, was given in 1989. These papers are primarily about the Rochester Conferences on High Energy Physics (1950-70), which involved thirty-five Nobel Prize winners, twenty-seven of whom were conference participants.

The second approximately 61 cubic feet of materials was given to Special Collections in 1994. It includes items such as correspondence, notes, reports, speeches, news clippings, photographs, and other personalia from Dr. Marshak's high school days in the 1920s to his death in 1992. This second donation is unprocessed.

The bulk of the papers pertaining to Dr. Marshak's term as President of the City College of New York are archived by the Hoover Institute on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.

Processing Information

The 1989 donation (Boxes 1-5) was processed and described prior to 1994. Additional description for these materials was completed in 2005 and 2010.

The 1994 donation is unprocessed. A print inventory was created in 1994. Please note: This is a working inventory and , for boxes other than 1-5, may not reflect all the contents of a particular box or folder.


Biographical Note

Robert E. Marshak was born in 1916 in the Bronx, a borough of New York City. Marshak's academic ability was recognized early, and despite their poverty, his family encouraged his studies. As a result, he finished James Monroe High School at the age of 15. From high school, he enrolled in the City College of New York (CCNY), a tuition-free university that served as an exit from poverty for generations of immigrants. After one semester at CCNY, he received a Pulitzer Scholarship which provided full tuition and a stipend which allowed him to continue his education at Columbia University. College appears to have been a profound intellectual experience for Marshak. He initially majored in philosophy and math, and served as the dance critic for the school newspaper. In his senior year, he switched to physics, and came into contact with Nobel Laureate I.I. Rabi. Rabi was initially skeptical of his commitment to physics, but later became a friend.

Marshak graduated from Columbia in 1936, and went to graduate school at Cornell University via a fellowship. At Cornell, he studied with Hans Bethe, who at the time was working on problems pertaining to energy production in stars, which later won Bethe a Nobel Prize. Marshak wrote his dissertation on energy production in white dwarf stars. His basic conclusion was confirmed about forty years later when the white dwarf orbiting Sirius came into view. He completed his Ph.D. degree in 1939 at the age of 22.

Jobs were hard to come by in the late 1930s, especially for Jewish scientists for whom positions were limited by quotas. Marshak nonetheless was able to get a one- year, non- renewable position at the University of Rochester. Here he met, among other notables, Victor Weiskopf, the future director of CERN, the nuclear accelerator facility in Geneva, Switzerland. During this time a tenure-track position opened in the Physics Department at Rochester which Marshak received.

Teaching at the University of Rochester was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Marshak became involved in the war effort, as did many scientists at the time. Initially, he worked on developing radar in Boston, Massachusetts, then on the British atomic bomb project in Montreal, Canada. In 1943, Marshak married Ruth Gup, a school teacher in Rochester. Later he joined the Manhattan Project which was developing the American atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico. At Los Alamos, Marshak was a deputy group leader in theoretical physics, a rank which allowed him to be privy to the overall strategy of atomic bomb creation.

After the war, Marshak returned to the University of Rochester, where he moved quickly through the ranks. He become a chair professor (the Harris chair) and the head of the physics department in the 1950s. He was very active as a researcher, and was a participant at the famous Shelter Island Conference where he proposed the two-meson theory. During his fourteen year chairmanship the Physics Department at Rochester became one of the top 10 in the country, and a recognized center for advanced research in physics.

During his years at the University of Rochester, Marshak became intensely interested in international science. He felt that scientific cooperation was an important first step in the quest for global peace. In 1956, he was a member of the first delegation of approximately six American scientists to visit the USSR after the death of Stalin. Marshak met the leaders of the Soviet Physics community, including Lev Landau. He made more trips to the USSR during the 1950s (US State Department debriefings after these trips are in the files), and became an acknowledged expert on Soviet science.

During the 1950s, Marshak established the "Rochester Conference", considered by his colleagues to be one of his most significant achievements. The conference evolved over the years into "The International Conference on High-Energy Physics." The Rochester Conference was instrumental in bringing together scientists from around the world, and served as a model for the establishment of international conferences in other fields. One of the most challenging aspects of the early conferences was the attempt to bring real Eastern European and Soviet physicists (as opposed to KGB agents) to the meetings. This effort required Marshak to carry out intense negotiations with the US State Department and with members of Congress. His other involvement in international science included participation in the establishment of the International Center of Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, and the International Foundation for Science in Sweden.

Events at the University of Rochester received lots of publicity, and brought Marshak to the attention of the search committee looking for a new president for CCNY. They approached him with an offer to become president, just at a time when his social conscience had been roused. He accepted the offer and became CCNY President just at a time when the college was undergoing a vast change in demographics.

Typical of Marshak, he put his full effort into the struggle to redefine the college and bring it through these crises. In addition to improving the quality of several departments, he established important new programs such as the Biomedical Center and the Legal Center, raised the funds for a new performing arts center (the Leonard Davis Center), and pushed through the construction of a 150 million dollar academic complex. He also became involved in the debate about national educational policy and "Science and Public Policy", delivering many speeches on the subject. He also served on the board of directors for Harlem Hospital and for Colonial Penn Insurance Company. In the end, the success of his efforts was recognized by the naming of the 14-story science building on campus after him. The stress of his position at CCNY took a toll on his health, and he suffered a minor stroke during a confrontation with a student group. The stroke effected his balance for the remainder of his life.

After nine years at CCNY, his desire to return to physics led him to accept an offer as University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, and he and Ruth moved to Blacksburg in 1979. During this period, he became President of the American Physical Society, the principle organization of physicists in the United States. Typical of his modus operandi, he took an activist approach to the job, using the weight of the society to debate the Reagan Administration on the issue of placing an anti-ballistic missile system into space, popularly known as "Star Wars."

Marshak officially retired as a professor at the age of 75. During the last five years of his life, he worked intensely on a book, entitled Conceptual Foundations of Modern Particle Physics. He finished the final corrections on the manuscript the day before he died. When he dropped the manuscript in the mailbox, he turn to his wife and said, in a joking voice, "It's done. Now I can die." The next day, December 23, 1992, he did. Minutes after the family convened in Cancun, Mexico, to celebrate Marshak's fiftieth wedding anniversary, he took the grandchildren down to the beach to enjoy the last hours of a sunny, windy afternoon. While the children played on the beach, he stepped into the warm water of the Gulf. The undertow was unexpectedly strong, and he apparently lost his balance. He fell into the water, couldn't stand up, and drowned.

A lengthy biography of Marshak is available on the Special Collections website: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/marshk/bio.htm.

Scope and Content

The collection consist of Marshak's files on the Shelter Island Conferences (1947-49) and his administrative and correspondence files on the Rochester Conferences on High-Energy Physics (1950-57), which he founded. After 1957 the conferences were held under the sponsorship of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) and Marshak's files from the conferences from 1958 to 1970 are also included. The collection also includes correspondence files on IUPAP (1953-73) and on the Commission on High Energy Physics (1958-63); photographs (1950-70); and a photocopy of an oral history interview done by Charles Weiner (1970).

The papers also includes correspondence, notes, reports, files, speech texts, newsclippings, autographs, photographs, transcripts, and other personalia donated in 1994. Topics include the national and international development of high-energy physics, meetings and symposia, and scientific committees; awards and prizes, administration and education, science in the Eastern Bloc and Third World, and the scientist as social activist or citizen-scientist.

Please note: The 1994 donation (materials in boxes other than Box 1-Box 5) is unprocessed. The "Contents List" below contains information from a paper inventory created in 1994, beginning with "Box A1." This is a working inventory and may not reflect all the contents of a particular box or folder. Materials were collection from multiple locations and are in their original order.

Arrangement

Materials in from the 1989 donation (Boxes 1-5) are arranged chronologically within subject files. The beginning of the "Contents List" below provides a detailed inventory of these boxes.

Materials from the 1994 donation are unprocessed, but the "Contents List" below contains information from a paper inventory created in 1994, beginning with "Box A1." Please note: This is a working inventory and may not reflect all the contents of a particular box or folder. Materials were collection from multiple locations and are in their original order.

Index Terms


Contents List

Shelter Island Conferences on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, 1947-1949.
University of Rochester High Energy Physics Conference. Rochester, New York, December 6, 1950.
Second Annual Rochester Conference on Meson Physics. Rochester, New York, January 11-12, 1952.
Third Annual Rochester Conference on High Energy Nuclear Physics. Rochester, New York, December 18-20, 1952.
Fourth Annual Rochester Conference on High Energy Nuclear Physics. Rochester, New York, January 25-27, 1954.
Fifth Annual Rochester Conference on High Energy Nuclear Physics. Rochester, New York, January 31-February 2, 1955.
Sixth Annual Rochester Conference on High Energy Nuclear Physics. Rochester, New York, April 3-7, 1956.
Moscow Conference on High Energy Particles. Moscow, USSR, May 14-22, 1956.
Seventh Annual Rochester Conference on High Energy Nuclear Physics. Rochester, New York, April 15-19, 1957.
Eighth Annual International Conference on High Energy Physics. CERN, Geneva, Switzerland, June 27-July 5, 1958.
Ninth Annual International Conference on High Energy Physics. Kiev, USSR, July 15- 25, 1959.
Tenth International Conference on High Energy Physics. Rochester, New York, August 25-September 1, 1960.
Eleventh International Conference on High Energy Physics. CERN, Geneva, Switzerland, July 4-11, 1962.
Twelfth International Conference on High Energy Physics. Dubna, USSR, August 5-11, 1964.
Thirteenth International Conference on High Energy Physics. Berkeley, California, August 31-September 7, 1966.
International Theoretical Physics Conference on Particles and Fields. Rochester, New York, August 28-September 1, 1967.
Fourteenth International Conference on High Energy Physics. Vienna, Austria, August 28-September 5, 1968.
Fifteenth International Conference on High Energy Physics. Kiev, USSR, 1970.
US-Soviet Scientific Relations, 1956-1966.
International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) 1953-1967.,
Miscellaneous, 1970-1990.
Box A1
Box A2
Box B1
Box B2
Box C1
Box C2
Box D1
Box D2
Box E1
Box E2
Box F1
Box F2
Box G1
Box G2
Box H1
Box H2
Box I1
Box I2
Box J1
Box J2
Box K1
Box K2
Box L1
Box L2
Box M1
Box M2
Box N1
Box N2
Box O1
Box O2
Box P1
Box P2
Box Q1
Box Q2
Box R1
Box R2 (Theory of T-S Box)
Box T1
Box T2
Box U1
Box U2
Box V1
Box V2
Box W1
Box W2
Box X1
Box X2
Box Y
Box Desktop 1
Box Desktop 2
Box Desktop 3
Box Desktop 4
Box Home 1
Box Home 2
Box Home 3
Box Home 4
Box Home 5
Box Floor, 1980 Blacksburg Workshop
Box 100 - Books, Pamphlets, Bound Reports, etc.
Miscellaneous Box
Folder 1
Oversize Folder

Significant Persons Associated With the Collection

Back to Top