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Letter from John C. Slater to Linus Pauling. January 21, 1931.
Slater writes to describe the details of a job offer being made to Pauling by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Prof. Pauling




January 21, 1931

Prof. Linus Pauling

California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, California

Dear Linus:

This is a letter I have been wanting to write ever since I came to the Institute last June; and Compton has now given the word to do it. The first thing I suggested when they tried to get me to come was that we try to get you too. Compton at once agreed, with enthusiasm, and the delay has been simply to get things well started before attacking you. I know it will be a hard job to induce you to come, but we are all determined to work hard. I ought to say that I am writing for Compton and Keyes, as well as myself, and we all entirely agree in wanting you.

In the first place, as to position: We can offer a full professorship, at $8,000, with an additional thousand the first year for moving expenses. The appointment can be, as you choose, either in physics, chemistry, or jointly between the two. The teaching duties and such things can, I am quite sure, be arranged to suit you.

I think you must agree that Cambridge is a more attractive place scientifically than it was two years ago. You remember that when you were considering coming to Harvard, I was considering going to Princeton. I did not go, because I was convinced that the scientific possibilities were greater here than there. The developments here at the Institute certainly have justified me in that opinion. One hears many people saying that Cambridge is becoming the scientific center of the country. Certainly, with both Harvard and the Institute, it has a combination which cannot be duplicated anywhere else, even in Pasadena.

To: Prof. L. Pauling Page Two. Jan. 21, 1931

Further, I think you would like it better at the Institute than at Harvard. You were rather afraid of conservatism there; I do not think you will find it here. The administration, with Compton at the head of it, has all the desirable features of the one at Pasadena, without some of the disadvantages. The chemistry department here already has a strong leaning toward physics, with all the work on equations of states, dielectric constants, and so on, and with the projected cryogenic laboratory, which is now assured and which will be a joint project of the two departments. I am finding that I work with the chemists a great deal, and they are very co-operative, and well informed on modern physics. The physics department, particularly in the two fields of theoretical physics and crystal structure, would fit in beautifully with your interests. The metallurgists and geologists are rapidly developing interests that would appeal to you; we have just got Schlichter in geophysics, who should be a very good addition. Taken all together, I think the possibilities are excellent for fine development just in your line, and now there is enough foundation both here and at Harvard, so that you would have no fear of having to carry on by yourself.

All the arguments I used two years ago still apply, and I wont repeat them. Accessibility to other laboratories is still, and will continue to be, an important advantage of the East over California, and nearness to Europe is valuable. You know how much we should be delighted personally to have you and your family here, and how much I should enjoy working with you. I know it is hard to decide to leave California, but I surely hope you will decide to, and the whole Institute is with me in wishing it.

If you want to come East to talk things over, and if you want to bring Mrs. Pauling along to see Cambridge, the Institute has a fund to pay your expenses. We were sorry

To: Prof. L. Pauling Page Three. Jan. 21, 1931

not to have seen you on your way back from Europe in September, but I hope you may give us the chance to see you before long. Best wishes for your family.

Sincerely yours,

John C Slater

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