Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, 1873-2013

Content Description

In 1986, Linus Pauling, a Nobel Prize winner for both Chemistry and Peace, donated his scientific notebooks, all of his papers, and the papers of his wife Ava Helen, an activist for peace, to Oregon State University, their alma mater. These papers chronicle fundamental scientific discoveries of the twentieth century and historical events of the anti-nuclear peace movement. They are an important source of information for researchers in many fields, and an unusually comprehensive and significant archive of the intellectual development of a path-breaking scientist.

Linus Pauling undertook a wide range of scientific investigations during his seventy-year career as a scientist, profoundly influencing the development of twentieth-century chemistry and biology. Pauling also had a second career as a humanist and peace activist. His inspiration to fight for social and moral justice came from his wife, Ava Helen, who championed peace and women's causes throughout her life. The collection reflects Linus Pauling's long and varied scientific career, his and Ava Helen's devotion to world peace, and their devotion to each other.

The collection of nearly 500,000 items contains all of the Paulings' personal and scientific papers, research materials, correspondence, photographs, awards and memorabilia. Among the most prominent items in the Collection are:

  • The original manuscript for Linus Pauling's seminal 1931 paper, The Nature of the Chemical Bond, which Pauling called, "the best work I've ever done."
  • The research notebooks and original manuscripts for a number of Pauling's influential works, including General Chemistry, The Architecture of Molecules, No More War!, and Vitamin C and the Common Cold.
  • The original petition for nuclear disarmament presented to the United Nations, which contains the signatures of more than 9,000 scientists and Nobel laureates from around the world including Albert Schweitzer, Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein.
  • Letters from many leading twentieth-century figures, including James Watson, Francis Crick, Martin Luther King, Jr., J. Robert Oppenheimer and John F. Kennedy.
  • Linus Pauling's two Nobel medals.

The Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers is a huge collection, dating from Pauling's boyhood and the earliest years of his chemical investigations to the months just before his death in 1994 at the age of 93. Letters, photos, filmed and taped interviews, notebooks, journals and molecular models constructed by Pauling -- among the first such models ever made -- provide a unique record of the life of one of the twentieth century's most influential and outspoken scientists.

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