Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center
Student Learning Curriculum: Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers
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Ways to Approach the Curriculum

Linus Pauling’s career is so long – he first published in the 1920s, and last in the 1990s – that any reading curriculum can only be partial in what it covers. This curriculum can be used as a starting point for particular research interests or it can be used as a basic guide pointing to materials which give a sense of Pauling’s life and work.

Since Pauling’s work and interests ranged across a broad spectrum, it is very helpful to first get a general picture of his life. Some reading in one or more of the full length biographies listed under Topical Readings can be invaluable for an understanding of the progression of Pauling’s work; each of the ones listed has a helpful index, and each sets out biographical information under the index heading "Pauling, Linus." The full length biographies are a good lead to important concepts in Pauling’s scientific thinking, such as hybridization of orbitals, resonance structure, complementarity, stochastic method, electronegativity, and the rules for determining molecular structure which became known as "Pauling’s rules" (See also Thomas Hager’s Force of Nature pg 143). Graduate students may be interested in a concept developed by Pauling’s students called "the Pauling Point."

The edited selections from Linus Pauling provide well-organized and annotated selections from his work under topical headings and are a quick and interesting route to knowledge of his thinking in a particular area. Also available are websites assembled by Special Collections and focusing on specific parts of Pauling's career. These include:

Linus Pauling, near Sutherlin, Oregon, 1922.
Linus Pauling, near Sutherlin, Oregon, 1922.
LP Photographs, 1922i.36

The main section of the curriculum details Linus Pauling’s scientific work and thinking. In so doing, the curriculum lists major publications and other papers chronologically, with an identification of the research or other life interest to which the item pertains. This section of the curriculum is divided into three parts.

The main section of the curriculum is followed by a brief list of topical readings, which includes materials in the history of science collection and in the general collection at the Valley Library. There is also a brief list of websites on Pauling and related topics, and an appendix of useful information regarding Special Collections.

Readers should be sure to utilize the six-volume published version of the Catalogue of Holdings of the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers the text of which is also available online at http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/coll/pauling/index.html. It is essential to look through the catalogue to get a sense of what is available in the collection, and to understand the extent of Pauling’s research notes, personal notes, article writing, correspondence, lectures, love letters, interviews, awards, and occasions photographed. The catalogue is a remarkable achievement, documenting hundreds of thousands of items.

Ava Helen and Linus Pauling, Madison, Wisconsin, 1939.
Ava Helen and Linus Pauling, Madison, Wisconsin, 1939.
LP Photographs, 1939i.4