Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center
“The Life and Work of Linus Pauling (1901-1994): A Discourse on the Art of Biography.”. February 28 - March 2, 1995

“The Life and Work of Linus Pauling (1901-1994): A Discourse on the Art of Biography.”

February 28 - March 2, 1995

From February 28 - March 2, 1995, a symposium was held at Oregon State University's LaSells Stewart Center to celebrate and discuss the remarkable life and legacy of Dr. Linus Pauling. The aim of the symposium was to convene three groups of speakers: scholars and journalists who had been writing about Linus Pauling as a biographical subject; friends and colleagues who knew Pauling personally; historians and archivists who have studied scientists as the subject of contemporary scientific biography.

Papers and discussions at the conference brought into focus the special challenges that the writing of contemporary scientific biography poses both in terms of the technical interpretation of a subject's scientific contributions as well as the need for sensitivity to the subject's students, colleagues, friends, family, and even the subject him- or herself.

The symposium's first paper, by Francis Crick, was delivered as the inaugural "Linus C. Pauling Day Lecture" on February 28, 1995, the ninety-fourth anniversary of Dr. Pauling's birth in Portland, OR. Later presentations included talks delivered by Nobel Chemistry laureate William Lipscomb, renowned molecular biologist Matthew Meselson, Pauling's official biographer Robert Paradowski and his youngest son Crellin Pauling. A number of prominent historians, including Sarton Medal recipients Frederic Lawrence Holmes and John L. Heilbron, likewise participated, as did a collection of Pauling's former graduate students, OSU Professors Emeritus Ken Hedberg and David Shoemaker among them.

Following the conference, two of the participants completed biographical studies of Linus Pauling. One was Ted Goertzel's book, co-authored with his son Ben Goertzel, Linus Pauling: A Life in Science and Politics, published by Basic Books in 1995. The second was Thomas Hager's Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling, published by Simon and Schuster in 1995. Barbara Marinacci, who attended the conference, also published Linus Pauling in His Own Words: Selections from His Writings, Speeches, and Interviews with Simon and Schuster's Touchstone Books.

The conference was sponsored by the Oregon State University College of Science, the OSU Department of Chemistry and Department of History, the Friends of the OSU Libraries, the OSU Libraries, the OSU Center for the Humanities, the President's Discretionary Fund and the Thomas Hart and Mary Jones Horning Endowment Fund.

Complete video of all of the symposium presentations is presented here, along with full transcriptions.