Archives of Scientific Philosophy: Archives for the History of Quantum Physics (AHQP) (Microfilm)
363 Hillman Library
3960 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
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Efforts to assemble this 300-reel microfilm collection began in the early 1960s. Headed by Thomas Kuhn, a project entitled "Sources for History of Quantum Physics" was funded by the National Science Foundation and jointly undertaken by the American Physical Society and the American Philosophical Society, with coordinating support from the American Institute of Physics. Scholars from the project interviewed many of the surviving pioneers in atomic and quantum physics and microfilmed much of their correspondence. Notebooks, unpublished manuscripts, and institutional records documenting the development of the field were also microfilmed. Oral history interviews conducted during the project amount to six full reels. The project's working papers are included as well. In recent years the original collection has been supplemented by microfilming other relevant material.
Scientists whose papers or correspondence figure prominently in the AHQP include: Allard, Bohr, Born, de Broglie, Debye, Dennison, Dirac, Ehrenfest, Einstein, Fermi, Gerlach, Goudsmit, Heisenberg, Hilbert, Jordan, Kemble, Klein, Kramers, Kronig, Landé, Langevin, Lenard, Lorentz, Pauli, Pauling, Richardson, Rubinowicz, Runge, Rutherford, Rydberg, Schrödinger, Sommerfeld, Stark, Van Vleck, Voigt, von Laue, Zeeman, and Zwicky. Many others are also represented. Material is in English, German, French, and Dutch. There is a very large number of autograph letters, some of which are in shorthand. In some instances the AHQP incorporates smaller, preexisting collections like the Niels Bohr Arkiv in Amsterdam and the Lorentz Collection in The Hague.
Much of the AHQP is described in detail in Kuhn's Sources for the History of Quantum Physics (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1967). This is the most important overview of the collection and its history. It must be remembered, though, that more than half the microfilms in the AHQP were produced after this guide was compiled. Furthermore, some subcollections have their own published finding aids. Noteworthy among these are:
- Bruce Wheaton, Catalogue of the Paul Ehrenfest Archive at the Museum Boerhaave, Leiden (Leiden: Museum Boerhaave, 1977).
- Lawrence Badash, Rutherford Correspondence Catalog (New York: American Institute of Physics, 1974).
Other catalogues and indexes occur on the relevant microfilms themselves. The AHQP's various finding aids, including Kuhn's inventory, provide only chronological and proper name access to material. Permission to quote from or to publish documents in the AHQP must be obtained from the respective literary heirs, trustees, or deposit library.