Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center
Student Learning Curriculum: Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers

Early Years: Education, Teaching and the Chemical Bond

Page 4-1

(Thomas Hager’s Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling has served as a valuable guide to this material.)

The list begins with examples of early influences on Pauling and his thinking. Information on most-cited papers comes from "The Twenty-five Most Cited Publications of Linus Pauling" by Zelek B. Herman, in The Roots of Molecular Medicine, Richard P. Huemer, ed, 1986.

1900s Childhood environment
A Pictorial History of Gilliam County, where Condon, Oregon is located, and where Pauling lived for a time as a child.
Biographical 5.004 (Catalogue Vol. IV page 76)
Linus Pauling, age 5, wearing cowboy chaps.
Linus Pauling, age 5, wearing cowboy chaps.
LP Photographs, 1906i.2

1910 Pauling's father writes local paper to request advice on reading for his son.
Pauling referred often to this event in interviews. Also in Hager, Force of Nature, page 31.
Newspaper Clippings 1910n.1 (Catalogue Vol. VI page 1). Also excerpted as an appendix to Vol. II of the published catalogue.
1917 Early diary
Written at age 16.
Biographical 1.001 Folder 1.1 (Catalogue Vol. IV page 1)
1920 Undergraduate at Oregon Agricultural College
First undergraduate paper, "The Manufacture of Cement in Oregon."
Publications 1920p.1 (Catalogue Vol. I page 105)
Linus Pauling at Oregon Agricultural College, wearing his "freshman beanie," ca. 1917.
Linus Pauling at Oregon Agricultural College, wearing his "freshman beanie," ca. 1917.
LP Photographs, 191?i.160

1921-1922 Teaches while an undergraduate at Oregon Agricultural College
An instructor in Pauling's physical chemistry course, Fred Allen, donated his class notebook to the Pauling Papers. In one of his chemistry courses, Linus taught Ava Helen Miller, whom he would later marry.
View Online: Biographical 1.005 Folder 5.1 (Catalogue Vol. IV page 2)
1922 Graduation from Oregon Agricultural College (later Oregon State University)
Delivers Senior Class Oration. In this talk, Pauling affirmed the social responsibility of the scientist.
Manuscripts and Typescripts of Speeches 1922s.1 (Catalogue Vol. I page 197)
1922-1923 In love with Ava Helen Miller; Linus and Ava Helen marry, 1923
A large collection of love letters includes correspondence from these early years. Linus quotes poetry and makes observations on his own life; the couple recommend books to each other.
Safe Documents (Love Letters) (Catalogue Vol. IV page 255)
Linus and Ava Helen Pauling on their wedding day, Salem, Oregon, June 17, 1923.
Linus and Ava Helen Pauling on their wedding day, Salem, Oregon, June 17, 1923.
LP Photographs, 1923i.4


A sample of letters written while Pauling worked at his summer job as a road paving inspector:
  • poem, "Awake" Safe 1.002 2.6 (Catalogue Vol. IV page 255)
  • recommends that Ava Helen read George Bernard Shaw, Safe 1.006 6.16 (Catalogue Vol. IV page 258)
  • notes lack of intimate friends except for Ava Helen and books, Safe 1.006 6.20 (Catalogue Vol. IV page 258)
  • "This job is beginning to bore me..." Safe 1.006 6.22 (Catalogue Vol. IV page 258)
  • two letters that refer to the book Body and Mind: A History and Defense of Animism by William McDougall. (1911) This 379-page book, a philosophical discussion of the nature of the physical world, which Ava Helen apparently recommended to Linus, was a topic of discussion in his letters to her. It is interesting as an example of the type of book that intellectually-curious students might have read in the 1920s. It is denser and more demanding than today’s typical reading. Pauling continued to read widely throughout his life. Body and Mind can be found in the regular library collection; Call # BF161.M3 Safe 1.006 6.28, 6.29 (Catalogue Vol. IV page 258)
1923 Graduate study: works under Roscoe G. Dickinson at Caltech
Dickinson was an important influence on Pauling’s crystallographic work, in part because he "rescued" Pauling from certain unsuccessful graduate experiments. When Pauling entered the California Institute of Technology as a graduate student in 1922, the Chemistry department had nine faculty members and seven graduate students. The Dickinson file includes course notebooks, correspondence and reprints.
Correspondence 94.1-94.5 and 95.1 (Catalogue Vol. I pages 56-57)
Roscoe Dickinson, Linus Pauling's Caltech graduate advisor, 1923.
Roscoe Dickinson, Linus Pauling's Caltech graduate advisor, 1923.
LP Photographs, 1923i.32

1923 First paper as a graduate student: "The crystal structure of molybdenite"
Written with Dickinson, whose suggestions enabled the success of the experiment.
Publications 1923p.1 (Catalogue Vol. I page 105)
1923 First sole-author paper: "The crystal structure of magnesium stannide"
One of several crystallography papers published by Pauling during his graduate years.
Manuscripts and Typescripts of Articles 1923a.1 (Catalogue Vol. I page 153)
Publications 1923p.2 (Catalogue Vol. I page 105)
1920s Early crystallographic research
Research notebook with notes concerning first two papers (and on p.81, "I love you", written by Ava Helen – see p.104 of Tom Hager’s Force of Nature on Ava Helen as lab assistant). Covers 1922-24, with some notes from later years.
View Online: Research Notebooks Box 2R (Catalogue Vol. II page 75)
1920s Early crystallographic research
A series of notes in Pauling's early Research notebooks. (Catalogue Vol. II page 76)
View Online: Research Notebooks Box 3R, 1923-25; Box 4R, 1924, 1926, 1928-29; Box 5R, 1924, 1929, 1933, 1935
1920s Crystallography and quantum theory / Chemical bond
Loose research notes and calculations, 1923-29; discussion of hybridization, 1928.
Science 3.001 (Catalogue Vol. II page 6)