Dr. Ina Heumann, Resident Scholar

Ina Heumann

Dr. Ina Heumann, a historian of science affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, is the most recent individual to complete a term as Resident Scholar in the Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections.  Heumann spent two months in Corvallis studying the Roger Hayward Papers and the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers as part of her on-going investigation into the connection between art and science with a specific focus on illustrated scientific texts.

From her study of the relationships built by Roger Hayward over his more than three decades as a scientific illustrator, Heumann found that significant tensions regularly arose between scientist and artist.  Without doubt, prominent among these tensions was the issue of money.  One striking example involved Hayward’s provision of a large bulk of illustrations to the publishing house W. H. Freeman & Co. for use in the first two editions of Pauling’s profoundly successful text General Chemistry.  While Pauling’s General Chemistry royalties in 1949 alone amounted to $5,000, Hayward received roughly $120.  Indeed, questions over just compensation for the value added by illustrations in scientific texts would dot Hayward’s long association with the Freeman company. And while both sides usually found room for compromise in their periodic bargaining sessions, the discussions were often acrimonious.

Of equal or even greater importance were issues of hierarchy and respect.  As many, including Heumann, have pointed out, Hayward was no ordinary illustrator.  For one, he thoroughly researched the science behind the instruments and processes that we was depicting; in that sense he “knew what he was drawing” on levels far beneath the surface.  At the same time, it was of vital importance to Hayward that his drawings be understandable and comfortable to the reader.  As he wrote

I try to put in enough familiar details so the reader will recognize them and feel on familiar ground.  Therefore I am careful to show more detail of glassware, for instance, than he really needs.

Despite the level of thought and attention that Hayward poured into his work, Heumann uncovered numerous instances in which Hayward was made to understand his place in the pecking order.  As most bluntly discussed by William H. Freeman in an important letter sent to Pauling in January 1953, Hayward was viewed as

a bit of a primadonna.  He has to be handled just so.  He thinks of himself as a professional person – which he is – who wants to be treated as such, rather than as a skilled craftsman.  Like all artists (and he is one of those, basically), he is a bit of a problem and [in] this case a bit of a genius.

Heumann argues that Hayward should more accurately be thought of as a “border crosser.”  In her Resident Scholar talk, she fleshed out this idea:

Hayward was architect, artist, craftsman, illustrator and inventor, not to mention his interest and competence in chemistry, optics, physics or mathematics.  However: The only formal degree he had was in architecture and technical engineering.  He was a self-made man, someone who loved to ‘get the books and dig the knowledge out’ by himself, as he once put it….Thus Hayward’s talent to serve as intermediate figure rooted at the same time on his deficiency: he was always in-between, being neither a scientist nor a mere illustrator, neither an educated expert nor just an average layman….Consequently, he was both needed and at the same time neglected.

It was this status as “border crosser” that lay at the heart of many of the creative and professional constrictions with which Hayward and his peers struggled throughout much of the twentieth century.

Hayward enjoyed a far more harmonious relationship with Scientific American magazine, whose “Amateur Scientist” column he illustrated for some twenty-four years.  Described by publisher Dennis Flanagan as “a marriage made in heaven,” Hayward’s partnership with the magazine proved fruitful for all parties involved.  The column, in particular, provided Hayward with an opportunity to stretch his intellectual wings given that he was, in essence, an amateur scientist himself.  And so it is that the illustrator regularly, in Heumann’s words,

contributed countless ideas and suggestions for improvements of the devices he had illustrated.  The letters were often literally published in the column, citing Hayward as an experienced expert of amateur science.  He illustrated and commented on questions like ‘How to measure the Metabolism of Animals,’ ‘Cloud Chambers and Detecting Nuclear Events,’ or how to construct inexpensive x-ray machines.

At their zenith, the “Amateur Scientist” columns were excellent examples of “scriptovisual documents” – documents that “can be read and looked at simultaneously.”  So too was the 1954 journal publication “The Structure of Protein Molecules,” authored by Linus Pauling, Robert Corey and Roger Hayward, and containing nine columns of text and nearly eighteen columns of drawings.

It is these sorts of scriptovisual documents, Heumann argues, that most directly prove the worth of the work done by individuals like Hayward.  For centuries drawings have enabled scientists to develop their own ideas in private and have likewise become essential to communicating complex information to a broader audience.  It was and remains morally and intellectually correct for scientific illustrators to place a premium on their work.  On the same token, the study of scientific illustration remains a tantalizing prospect for further historical examination.  As Heumann writes, “It becomes very obvious in the papers of Roger Hayward: behind the images is a story as worthy to be told as behind the texts.”

The OSU Libraries Special Collections Resident Scholar Program is supported by the Peter and Judith Freeman Fund. Past recipients have included Dr. Burtron Davis of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research, Toshihiro Higuchi of Georgetown University, Dr. Mina Carson, professor of history at Oregon State University, Jane Nisselson, a documentary filmmaker based in New York City and Julia Bursten, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pittsburgh.

About these ads

2 Responses

  1. […] For us, it is rewarding to know that the Resident Scholar Program has assumed such an international posture, and that the collections held within our facility are greatly benefiting the work of a historian […]

  2. […] and educational contexts, and researchers have traveled from as far away as Buffalo, New York and Berlin, Germany to use the collection.  Currently, work is on-going concerning Hayward’s moon models and his […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59 other followers

%d bloggers like this: