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David and Clara Shoemaker Papers, 1930-2000

By Finding aid prepared by Chris Petersen, Tina Renk, Maarika Teose and Rachel West.

Collection Overview

Title: David and Clara Shoemaker Papers, 1930-2000

ID: MSS Shoemaker

Primary Creator: Shoemaker, David P.

Extent: 39.0 cubic feet. More info below.

Arrangement: The Shoemaker Papers have been organized into seven series. Broadly speaking, the contents of each series have been arranged chronologically, although many items in Series 4 and Series 7 are arranged alphabetically.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The David and Clara Shoemaker Papers document the Shoemakers' professional output as noted x-ray crystallographers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Oregon State University. The collection includes correspondence, research notebooks and scholarly manuscripts, among other material types. David Shoemaker, a former student of Linus Pauling, served as chair of the OSU Chemistry department from 1970-1981.

The Curriculum Vitae and Biographical Abstracts for Clara and David - Series 5, box-folders 5.002.1 and 5.002.2, respectively, have been digitized and are available upon request.

Scope and Content Notes

The Collection contains approximately 39 linear feet (78 boxes) of material that has been organized into seven series. The bulk of the collection consists of personal correspondence, organizational records and research notebooks, kept both by the Shoemakers and by their many graduate students. The Shoemakers' long-standing interest in the study of transition metals is reflected in the collection's manuscripts and publications holdings, as are David Shoemaker's research on the concept of "hydrosmoelectric power." David Shoemaker's eleven years as chair of the Oregon State University chemistry department are also closely detailed in the three boxes of organizational records extant from that time. Small collections of books, photographs and scientific artifacts round out the collection.

The Curriculum Vitae and Biographical Abstracts for Clara and David - Series 5, box-folders 5.002.1 and 5.002.2, respectively, have been digitized and are available upon request.

Biographical / Historical Notes

David Powell Shoemaker (1920-1995) was born in Kooskia, Idaho on 12 May 1920, received a from Reed College in 1942 and his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1947, both in chemistry. In 1947 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship which he spent at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen. He returned to Caltech as a senior research fellow (1948-1951) before going to MIT as an assistant professor. He moved to Corvallis in 1970 as chairman of the Chemistry Department at Oregon State University and retired in 1984. During his time as chairman (1970-1981) he had primary responsibility for the construction of the Gilbert Hall Addition, a teaching facility.

Shoemaker's primary research was in x-ray crystallography. He and his wife, Clara, determined the structures of complex transition-metal phases, research begun with the determination of the structure of the sigma phase at Pauling’s laboratory at Caltech.

While at MIT Shoemaker also worked in the structure of commercially important zeolites. He co-authored a laboratory text (with Carl W. Garland, Jeffrey I. Sternfeld and later Joseph W. Nibler), Experiments in Physical Chemistry (1962), now in its sixth edition. Among his professional services were 15 years on the United States National Committee for Crystallography (1969), chairman of the American Crystallographic Association (1970), member of the executive committee of the International Union of Crystallography (1972-78) and regional editor of Acta Crystallographica.

David Shoemaker died in 1995.

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 78 boxes; 266 books

Statement on Access: The collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: Accessioned from the Shoemaker family in Fall 1999.

Related Materials:

An oral history conducted with Clara Shoemaker is available at the Archives of Women in Science and Engineering, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library. WISE Archives: Oral History Collection.

The Shoemakers' relationship with Linus Pauling is also well-represented in the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers (MSS Pauling).

Special Collections and Archives Research Center collections also include the Chemistry Department Records (RG 098), which document the research and graduate programs in chemistry at Oregon State primarily in the post-war period of the late 1940s to early 1960s.

See also: "My Memories and Impressions of Linus Pauling," a Biographical Sketh of David Powell Shoemaker, and a Biographical Sketch of Clara Shoemaker.

Preferred Citation: David and Clara Shoemaker Papers (MSS Shoemaker), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Processing Information: Preliminary arrangement by Tina Renk. Final arrangement by Chris Petersen, Maarika Teose and Rachel West.

Other URL: A preliminary container list was created for this collection on or before November 19, 2015.


Shoemaker, David P.
Bertaut, Erwin Felix (1913-2003)
Fruchart, Daniel
Hedberg, Kenneth W. (1920-2019)
Hodgkin, Dorothy (1910-1994)
Pauling, Linus (1901-1994)
Shoemaker, Clara Brink.
Slater, John C. (John Clarke) (1900-1976)

People, Places, and Topics

California Institute of Technology
Chemistry, Physical and theoretical--Experiments.
Chemistry, Physical and theoretical--Laboratory manuals.
Chemistry--Study and teaching (Higher)--California.
Chemistry--Study and teaching (Higher)--Massachusetts.
Chemistry--Study and teaching (Higher)--Oregon--Corvallis.
International Union of Crystallography
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Oregon State University. Department of Chemistry
Shoemaker, Clara Brink.
Shoemaker, David P.
Transition metals.
USA National Committee for Crystallography
X-ray crystallography.

Forms of Material

Photographic prints.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.