Papers include correspondence with Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, and Edward Teller.
The papers of physicist and inventor Leo Szilard chronicling the birth of the nuclear age and the work of the Manhattan Project will soon be digitized by the UC San Diego Library.
Szilard played an essential role in the development of the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project, yet he was also a passionate advocate for global arms control and argued for using the bomb as a deterrent—not as a force for destruction. The Library will digitize Szilard’s materials, which extend from 1938 to 1998, thanks to a $93,000 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
Principal Investigator for the digitization project, which is expected to take approximately two years to complete, is Brian E. C. Schottlaender, the Audrey Geisel University Librarian at UC San Diego. The project will be administered by Lynda Claassen, director of the Library’s Mandeville Special Collections, which houses the Szilard papers.
More than 50,000 items will be digitized through the project, said Schottlaender, including some 550 photographs, as well as several hours of video and audio recordings. The papers include correspondence with numerous fellow scientists with whom Szilard collaborated, including Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, Jonas Salk, Edward Teller, and Linus Pauling. Also included are a variety of biographical materials, such as immigration papers and passports—Szilard was born in Budapest, emigrating to the U.S. in 1938— and biographical articles and sketches.
In addition to manuscripts, scientific papers, and notebooks, the collection includes drafts, figures, and notes related to the Szilard’s patents, including an early patent in refrigeration held with Albert Einstein and the patent for a “neutronic reactor” developed with Enrico Fermi. Materials related to Szilard’s singular achievements on the “nuclear chain reaction” and “chemostat” are also part of the collection.
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