The Scientific War Work of Linus C. Pauling All Documents and Media  
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Thomas Addis
Arnold O. Beckman
Vannevar Bush
Dan H. Campbell
Harris M. Chadwell
James Bryant Conant
Robert B. Corey
William H. Eberhardt
Thorfin R. Hogness
Frank B. Jewett
George B. Kistiakowsky
Joseph B. Koepfli
Arthur Lamb
Ava Helen Pauling
Linus Pauling
Linus Pauling, Jr.
David P. Shoemaker
Irvin Stewart
J. Holmes Sturdivant
Sidney Weinbaum
J. Norton Wilson
Reuben E. Wood

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Linus Pauling
Linus Pauling, 1940s.
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Linus Pauling


Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers
Location: Special Collections, Oregon State University Libraries
Address: 121 The Valley Library, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-4501
Size: 4400 linear ft.
Finding Aid:
Phone: 541-737-2075  Fax: 541-737-8674
Email:  Web:



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"[Simon's] family is in Berlin now. He is worried about anti-Semitism. He is a Jew, and so is his wife (and the children). We talked about Jews a while. He said Euken was brought to Gottingen instead of Stern because there are so many Jews there already (Franck, Born, Conant, Goldschmidt) and they thought it better not to have another."

Linus Pauling. Letter to Ava Helen Pauling. May 9, 1932.

"The feeling in America is uniformly that of sympathy for England in her inability to stand for Hitlerism any longer and I hope that the democracies will line up together strong enough to put an end to the situation soon."

Linus Pauling. Letter to Leslie Sutton. September 11, 1939.

"I would be willing to assume responsibility for work on a problem of national defense, and I am in a position to do this. I myself could arrange to devote a considerable fraction of my time, perhaps one third, to this work..."

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

"While talking with Badger this morning I had the idea of determining partial pressure of oxygen in presence of other gases by measuring magnetic susceptibility. I have devised an apparatus...and have made rough calculations showing that it should work."

Linus Pauling. Note to Self. October 1940.

"Have most promising method determination partial pressure oxygen. Best available post-doctorate assistant offered job elsewhere. May I hold him. Please telegram or telephone."

Linus Pauling. Telegram to James Conant. October 8, 1940.

"I am planning to carry out during the next few days some experiments on the resistance of concentrated peroxide to shock by detonators and by rifle bullets, and I shall let you know the results of the experiments."

Linus Pauling. Letter to T.K. Sherwood. November 14, 1940.

"Dr. Chadwell has handed me your telegram stating that you are ill and I certainly regret to hear that you may be laid up for some time. The wording of your telegram would indicate that you have run into something serious although I certainly hope that this may not be the case."

T.K. Sherwood. Letter to Linus Pauling. April 16, 1941.

"I have burned the carbon paper, faulty mimeograph sheets, and original manuscript of the report. I trust that you will find the report satisfactory."

Linus Pauling. Letter to James B. Conant. May 13, 1941.

"Our work on the apparatus continues to give satisfactory results. The only feature of it which has disappointed me somewhat is that our progress has been somewhat slower than I had expected."

Linus Pauling. Letter to James Conant. May 13, 1941.

"Oh, I might mention that everyone from the East who writes to give Linus advice urges him to get in touch with a Dr. Addis somewhere in San Francisco, at Berkeley, Stanford, etc. You see how things get nosed around."

Ava Helen Pauling. Letter to Thomas Addis. May 20, 1941.

"Our Section L-1 on Aerosols has been set up to handle problems dealing with both offense and defense against toxic smokes. In connection with that program they have naturally run into the old problem of measurement of particle size and particle-size distribution, and have employed two or three of the more promising optical and microscope techniques in this connection... I wonder if you would give some though to possible new methods of attacking this problem..."

James B. Conant. Letter to Linus Pauling. June 13, 1941.

"We are much interested in your suggestion regarding particle size measurements and it seems probable that we will ask you to undertake a study of its possibility."

T.K. Sherwood. Letter to Linus Pauling. July 9, 1941.

"I am glad to learn that the Office of Scientific Research and Development is willing to enter into a contract for support of our further investigation concerning the development of [the] important partial pressure indicator."

Linus Pauling. Letter to Vannevar Bush. August 15, 1941.

"This Committee recommends that a program of experimental study of the relative erosive powers of propellants with special reference to hyper-velocity guns be begun immediately by Section A of Division A of the NDRC, with the advice and cooperation of the Army and Navy."

National Defense Research Ad-Hoc Committee on Internal Ballistics. "Resolution Passed by Ad Hoc Committee." 1942.

"I am very much interested in the fact that you feel that there is a reasonably good chance for the development of an instrument based upon the magnetic susceptibility of hemoglobin and its compounds which would provide for the detection of carbon monoxide."

Warren C. Johnson. Letter to Linus Pauling. April 22, 1942.

"The Committee [on Medical Research] was favorably disposed toward the project and were unanimous in the thought that if any one could accomplish such a result you would have to be the one."

A. N. Richards. Letter to Linus Pauling. May 8, 1942.

"I have known Dr. Sturdivant for fifteen years. During the period 1927-1930 he carried on graduate work in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology under my direction, and since 1930 he has worked continuously as Research Fellow, Senior Fellow in Research, and Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Throughout this time I have been in very close contact with ihm. I have complete confidence in his honesty, integrity, loyalty to the United States of America. I rate him as the most reliable and trustworthy man that I know."

Linus Pauling. Letter to George Kistiakowsky. May 27, 1942.

"Confirming Dr. Conant’s recent telephone conversation with you, I am pleased to appoint you Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Internal Ballistics as related to Hyper-Velocity Guns."

Vannevar Bush. Letter to Linus Pauling. August 11, 1942.

"Both the Army and the Navy are developing hypervelocity guns. Of the two, the Army has the greater interest, because of antitank application.... Present work involves taper bore guns, muzzle adapters, light-weight projectiles."

Linus Pauling. Note to Self. August 28, 1942.

"In regard to the carbon monoxide project, unless there is some other method of approach it would appear to me without a too careful analysis that the hemoglobin method is not suitable for adaption to an airplane instrument."

Warren C. Johnson. Letter to Linus Pauling. March 23, 1943.

"We are now making a large preparation, about fifteen pounds of oxypolygel, from Knox calcium gelatinate Lot No. C-1... Individual preparations of a little less than a pound are made, and these are being studied by physical-chemical methods to check on the uniformity of the product."

Linus Pauling. Letter to Robert F. Loeb. July 24, 1943.

"Our faith in the future rests up on our faith in these laws of nature. And so we can understand that these laws cannot be broken, but must pursue their inexorable course even when, because of an accidental, unavoidable concatenation of circumstances, this course is such as to take from us our friend Elizabeth early in her life..."

Linus Pauling. "Talk at Memorial Services for Elizabeth Swingle." September 27, 1943.

"I have just heard, unofficially, that the Committee on Blood Substitutes of the National Research Council has sent you a recommendation that all projects concerned with gelatine as a possible blood substitute be discontinued."

A. N. Richards. Letter to Linus Pauling. May 8, 1944.

"The recommendation of the NRC Committee was that [your contract] not be extended and the CMR, acting in accordance with it, voted not to extend."

A. N. Richards. Letter to Linus Pauling. May 14, 1944.

"The enclosed letter, marked No. 1, is written on paper treated by our process. Would you be able to have a thorough examination made of it, and to let us know the results?"

Linus Pauling. Letter to Warren C. Lothrop. November 1, 1944.

"I will feel that the study of this subject is well started, and that fully appropriate steps for meeting the President's wishes have been taken, if the group selected can be brought together promptly, and I hope I may soon have indication of your willingness to serve in this connection."

Vannevar Bush. Letter to Linus Pauling. January 5, 1945.

"I do not know who is responsible for this un-American act. The people in Pasadena and the surrounding region are, in general, intelligent and patriotic. I have, however, come in contact with a few people who do not know what the Bill of Rights is and what the Four Freedoms are and what the principles are for which the United Nations are fighting. I suspect that the trespass on our home was carried out by one or more of these misguided people who believe that American citizens should be persecuted in the same way that the Nazis have persecuted the Jewish citizens of Germany and the conquered territories."

Linus Pauling. "Vandals Victimize Scientist's Home Where Nisei Employed," Pasadena Independent. March 7, 1945.

"I am very pleased to accept the appointment mentioned in your letter of January 5 as a member of the special committee which will devote its attention to the question of the future of medical research in this country."

Linus Pauling. Letter to Vannevar Bush. May 11, 1945.

"I am very glad to receive a copy of your report to the President. I have read this report with great interest, and with complete approval."

Linus Pauling. Letter to Vannevar Bush. June 5, 1945.

"Your efforts in this Division have been a great value to the Nation. The development of chromatographic methods of analysis is, in itself, a substantial contribution which is widely used throughout the country wherever investigations of rocket powder are under way. Your studies of stability and surveillance methods have been very helpful in all powder developments and in settling difficulties encountered in manufacturing operations. Your recent suggestion of the use of rate control strands or particles has made the program on castable double base powder much more effective and should give the product a wider range of properties and applications. I believe that you were most helpful in all the Division's undertakings and have every right to feel proud of each contribution."

Vannevar Bush. Letter to Linus Pauling. June 14, 1945.

"I thank you for you letter...and the copy of your report to the President. You may be assured that I shall do everything possible to stimulate consideration of the matter presented in your report by local groups in this section of the country. I am, as you know, in whole-hearted agreement with the recommendations which you make."

Linus Pauling. Letter to Vannevar Bush. July 20, 1945.

"I thank you for you letter...and the copy of your report to the President. You may be assured that I shall do everything possible to stimulate consideration of the matter presented in your report by local groups in this section of the country. I am, as you know, in whole-hearted agreement with the recommendations which you make."

Linus Pauling. Letter to Vannevar Bush. July 20, 1945.

"The problem of an atomic war must not be confused by minor problems such as Communism versus capitalism. An atomic war would kill everyone, left, right, or center."

Linus Pauling. "The H-Bomb or Peace." February 13, 1950.

"I made one great mistake in my life when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made but there was some justification - the danger that the Germans would make them."

Albert Einstein. As recounted by Linus Pauling. November 16, 1954.

"During the year 1944 Mrs. Ava Helen Pauling worked for several months in my laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. Her task consisted in the separation by chromatography of various colored derivatives of plant products and the determination of their physical constants. I remember with a great deal of pleasure her participation in our research which she carried out to my full satisfaction. I have no hesitation in recommending her for an appointment which would enable her to return to the laboratory."

A. J. Haagen-Smit. Letter to Linus Pauling. October 27, 1967.

"I was asked very soon after the atomic bombs were used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to give talks to groups of citizens - Rotary Club sort of thing. I remember the first one was in Hollywood. I was asked because I was known as a speaker about scientific subjects, who could present the material to the public at large."

Linus Pauling. NOVA Interview. 1977.

"Dr. John Kincaid has told me today that one discovery that was made by our group in Pasadena during the Second World War has been pretty universally adopted.... We showed that dinitrodiphenylamine was less basic and for this reason was a more effective stabilizer than diphenylamine itself. He said that dinitrodiphenylamine is now universally used in powder."

Linus Pauling. Note to Self. April 22, 1983.

"I remember with pleasure the years that we were together as graduate students and staff members in the California Institute of Technology, and also that we are both members of Delta Upsilon. I have sometimes mentioned to people that your DU spectrophotometer was given that name because of Delta Upsilon, but that was just a surmise on my part."

Linus Pauling. Letter to Arnold O. Beckman. January 8, 1986.

"During the Second World War, when the children were growing up, I think three of the children were still at home or - I don't know, perhaps the youngest one was still at home - [Ava Helen Pauling] worked for a couple of years as a chemist on a war job making rubber out of plants that would grow in the Mojave. She was interested in chemistry and knew a lot of chemistry but it was more an intellectual interest. She was planning to write a cookbook on the science of cooking, because she knew what happened when things were cooked. She knew what baking powder is and why you use it. She used to make her own baking powder, instead of just buying baking powder. Well, she never got that done. She was a very good cook, but she never wrote the book on the science of cooking....It probably wouldn't have had much of a sale, because the contents might well have been above the heads of most cooks."

Linus Pauling. Interview with Samantha Guerry. April 1991.

"Decisions can be made now that will determine the quality of life for human beings for hundreds of years. Now is the time for all nations and all people to cooperate in building a world free of war and militarism, a world based on rationality and ethics."

Linus Pauling. "Our Goal: A World in Which Every Human Being Can Lead a Good Life." October 20, 1991.

"Pauling finally felt he was going to be able to do something positive to fight the Nazis, and he listened eagerly as a group of military officers presented the researchers with a wish list of needed breakthroughs, including new medicines, better explosives, and more accurate monitoring and detection devices."

Thomas Hager. Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling. 1995.

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