The David A. Marcus Letters are comprised of correspondence between Marcus and politicians, peace activists, religious leaders, scientists, and intellectuals between 1972 and 1983. Topics include the potential for nuclear conflict, the need for a global peace organization, and the future of humankind.
ID: MSS Marcus
Extent: 0.07 cubic feet
Scope and Content Notes
The David A. Marcus Letters are comprised of correspondence to Marcus from politicians, peace activists, religious leaders, scientists, and intellectuals addressing issues of nuclear war, longterm survivability of the human race, and anti-war strategies. The correspondence is a result of several letter-writing campaigns conducted by Marcus in 1972-1973 and 1982-1983 in which he requested commentary on global issues (primarily nuclear war) from experts in an array of fields. Correspondents include Norman Cousins, Glenn T. Seaborg, William A. Higinbotham, and Hans A. Bethe, among others. The collection also includes two letters written by Marcus, a draft of his short story "Angel of Death," two reprints, and an autographed photo of Willard Libby.
Statement on Access: The collection is open for research.
Preferred Citation: David A. Marcus Letters (MSS Marcus), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.
Acquisition Note: The David A. Marcus Letters were purchased by the Oregon State University Special Collections in 1990 as part of the History of Atomic Energy Collection. The materials were separated from the larger collection in 2015 and are now held by the OSU Libraries Special Collections & Archives Research Center.
Languages of Materials
- Series 1: Correspondence, 1972-1985 Add to Shelf
- Box-Folder 1.1: Correspondence re: Global environmental problems, 1973 Add to Shelf
- This file is comprised of responses to a letter written and distributed by Marcus in the summer and fall of 1973 in which he asks his correspondents' opinions on the issue of longterm human survival (especially regarding nuclear warfare and overpopulation). Respondents included Alan Guttmacher (Planned Parenthood Federation of America); Barry Commoner (Washington University); Paul R. Ehrlich (Stanford University); Frank Press (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); David M. Gates (University of Michigan); H. E. Carter (University of Arizona); Harvey Brooks (Harvard University); Hubert Heffner (Stanford University); Paul Verghese (Orthodox Theological Seminary); Glenn Campbell (Hoover Institution); Ivor H. Mills (University of Cambridge); W. A. Robson (University of London); G. W. Dimbleby (University of London); Roger W. Heyns (American Council on Education); and Christopher Cornford (Royal College of Art). The responses are generally positive, though many suggest rapid improvements in international problems may be necessary to prevent nuclear war or other global disasters. Marcus' original letter is present in this file.
- Box-Folder 1.2: Correspondence re: Proposal to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, 1982 Add to Shelf
- This file is comprised of responses to a letter written and distributed by Marcus in the spring of 1982 proposing that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee establish a world-wide antinuclear movement. Respondents include Jakob Sverdrup (Nobel Institute); Mary Zepernick (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom); Benjamin L. Hooks (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People); Ruth J. Hinerfeld (League of Women Voters); Philip Noel-Baker (House of Lords, Westminster); Francis Wolf (on behalf of Francis Blanchard, International Labour Office); and Dominique Borel (Comite International de la Crois-Rouge). Many of the responses indicate general support for Marcus' goals but suggest that the Nobel Committee may not be the appropriate governing body for such an organization. A letter from Jakob Sverdrup of the Nobel Institute states directly the Committee is unable to act in such a way.
- Box-Folder 1.3: Correspondence re: Effect of nuclear war on the Earth's orbit, 1982 Add to Shelf
- This file is comprised of responses to a letter written and distributed by Marcus in the spring of 1982 requesting information on the impact of a nuclear conflict on the Earth's orbit. Included are responses from Glenn T. Seaborg (University of California, Berkeley); Harvey Brooks (Harvard University); George Kistiakowsky (Harvard University); H. E. Carter (University of Arizona); Marvin L. Goldberger (California Institute of Technology); Hans A. Bethe (Cornell University); Jerome Grossman (Council for a Livable World); and William A. Higinbotham (Brookhaven National Laboratory). The responses uniformly deny that a nuclear war would affect the Earth's orbital path, but many do note the potential destructiveness of such a conflict. Marcus' original letter is present in this file.
- Box-Folder 1.4: Correspondence re: "Angel of Death", 1982-1985 Add to Shelf
- This file is comprised of responses to Marcus' short story "Angel of Death" in which Marcus (as protagonist) converses with an embodiment of death about the future of mankind, the threat of nuclear annihilation, and his own efforts to encourage anti-nuclear activism. Marcus received responses in the fall of 1982 from Clark M. Clifford (Clifford and Warnke Attorneys at Law); Norman Cousins (University of California); Philip A. Farris (on behalf of U.S. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger); and Alan Cranston (United State Senator, California). The file also contains a letter from Harold Brown (Johns Hopkins University) from September 1985. Most responses to "Angel of Death" indicate agreement with Marcus' ideas but a letter from the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense emphasizes the principles of nuclear deterrence. The file also includes a 1984 typescript draft of "Angel of Death" featuring annotations from Marcus.
- Box-Folder 1.5: General Correspondence, 1972-1984 Add to Shelf
- This file is comprised of letters from politicians, activists, and intellectuals between 1972 and 1983 responding to Marcus' anti-nuclear activism. Included are letters from Rose A. Conway (on behalf of Harry S. Truman); Dennis Meadows (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Jay W. Forrester (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); G. B. Re (on behalf of Pope John Paul II); Bernard T. Feld (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Norman Cousins (University of California); Helen Caldicott (Physicians for Social Responsibility); William A. Higinbotham (Brookhaven National Laboratory); Emilio de Olivares (on behalf of U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar); Benjamin L. Hooks (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People); and Harold Willens (Nuclear Arms Freeze Initiative). Respondents generally express support for Marcus' anti-nuclear stance but decline to become involved in his personal projects (such as the development of a unified peace movement or the establishment of an International Peace Day). The file also includes several items that were likely attachments to correspondence to Marcus. These include an autographed photo of chemist Willard Libby, and reprints of V. C. Wynne-Edwards' "Population, Affluence, and Environment" and "Risk with Energy from Conventional and Nonconventional Sources" by Herbert Inhaber.