The Scientific War Work of Linus C. Pauling Narrative  
Home | Search | All Documents and Media | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day
Recruiting for Science
<  8  >

With the NDRC's governing body gathered and the major administrative decisions made, it was time to assemble the troops. First, Bush assigned Frank Jewett, whose position in the National Academy of Sciences made him an influential figure, to the task of contacting the nation's scientific institutions. Over the course of a few weeks, Jewett wrote to over 700 colleges and universities requesting information on their scientific facilities, staff, and foci. James Conant, the president of Harvard University, followed this blitz with another fifty letters to the country's best-outfitted corporate laboratories, outlining the NDRC's most pressing responsibilities and calling for aid. Through this campaign, the NDRC was able to compile a near-comprehensive record of scientific staff and facilities across the continent. This document was known as the "Report on Research Facilities of Certain Educational and Scientific Institutions" and served as an important resource for assigning research work and funds during the war. After each committee member had been assigned a division, Bush requested that they provide him with a list of potential staff members. He reviewed their selections and, by early September, was sending out recruitment letters.

On September 9, 1940, Linus Pauling received a letter signed by Bush appointing him to Division B (bombs, fuels, gases, and chemical problems) of the NDRC under James Conant's direction. Pauling had been in intermittent contact with the division's head since 1929 when Conant, the director of the Harvard chemistry department, had attempted to lure Pauling away from Caltech. It is unsurprising that Conant recommended Pauling for membership in the NDRC, given his obvious appreciation of Linus' work as a researcher. Pauling, in turn, regarded Conant as a competent chemist and a superb administrator. Spurred on by patriotism and heartened by Conant's encouragement, he accepted the position on September 23, 1940.

One week before, on September 16, 1940, President Roosevelt signed into being the Selective Training and Service Act (STSA). Although the United States had not yet officially entered the war, Roosevelt was doing his part to prepare the nation. The act established the Selective Service System, which allowed the conscription of private citizens into the armed forces. Males aged eighteen to sixty-five were required to register with ages eighteen to forty-five being considered eligible for immediate entrance into the training program. It quickly became clear to Pauling and other members of the NDRC that the war would have a major impact on the availability of scientists and lab technicians not exempted from conscription by their connection to the NDRC. By November 1940, Pauling was in the process of requesting exemptions for his most valued research men, including Dr. J. Norton Wilson and J. Holmes Sturdivant, men that would help determine America's success in the war.

Previous Page Next Page

Audio Clip  Audio: Caltech During World War II. February 22 - 23, 1991. (1:57) Transcript and More Information

See Also: Letter from Linus Pauling to Richard C. Tolman. June 12, 1940. 
See Also: Letter from Linus Pauling to Los Angeles Board No. 234 of the U.S. Selective Service System. October 26, 1942. 
See Also: Letter from Linus Pauling to the Los Angeles Board of Appeal of the U.S. Selective Service System. November 10, 1942. 

Click images to enlarge 

Portrait of Frank B. Jewett. approx. 1940.

Page 1
Letter from Linus Pauling to Warren K. Lewis. July 17, 1940.

"There were those who protested that the action of setting up NDRC was an end run, a grab by which a small company of scientists and engineers, acting outside established channels, got hold of the authority and money for the program of developing new weapons. That, in fact, is exactly what it was."

Home | Search | All Documents and Media | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day