In recent days, a large amount of great new content has been added to the Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections website. Here are some of the highlights:
First and foremost, almost nine hours of transcribed video from a major conference on the life and work of Linus Pauling has been added to our Special Events webpage. Unquestionably, one of the highlights of this new addition is a 50 minute-long talk by DNA co-discoverer and Nobel laureate Francis Crick, titled “The Impact of Linus Pauling on Molecular Biology.” Crick, who had occasion to interact with Pauling for over forty years, speaks eloquently of the huge advancements in biological studies that were such a vital part of Pauling’s multifaceted scientific career, and concludes that Pauling was, indeed, “one of the founders of molecular biology.”
Crick’s lecture was the first in a series of presentations given at the Pauling Symposium, titled “A Discourse on the Art of Biography,” and running for three days from February 28 – March 2, 1995. The gathering also featured what is surely the largest summit of Pauling biographers ever assembled. Intriguing talks by Thomas Hager, author of Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling and biographer Ted Goertzel, who revealed and analyzed the details of a Rorschach test taken by Pauling, are definitely worth viewing. Likewise, anyone interested in a nuanced examination of Pauling’s life story should view the presentation made by Robert Paradowski, who has spent the better part of thirty years composing a mammoth three-volume biography of Pauling that, to this day, remains unpublished.
A collection of Pauling’s former graduate students comprised the presenters for the conference’s third session. Speaking less than one year after Pauling’s death, the group shared many endearing stories mined from their long associations with the famous scientist. Famed biologist Matthew Meselson fondly recounted his deciding to pursue graduate studies at Caltech while immersed in the Pauling family swimming pool. Likewise, Nobel laureate chemist William Lipscomb passed along the details of Caltech Chemists baseball games in the Pasadena city league, noting for the record that he once “made the local newspaper for an unassisted triple play while playing center field.” The session was chaired by Linus and Ava Helen Pauling’s youngest son Crellin, who took a few moments himself to reflect upon his experience of growing up with two world-famous parents.
The conference’s final session was devoted to a deeply-interesting discussion of the highs and lows encountered by writers of biography in attempting to capture an honest portrait of their subjects. Some of the history profession’s most important scholars, including Sarton Medal winners Frederic Lawrence Holmes and John L. Heilbron, revealed a number of lessons learned. In this vein, Judith Goodstein of the Caltech archives shared her thoughts on the particular issues surrounding the writing of an institutional history and S.S. Schweber provided a glimpse of the what it was like to wrestle with the remarkable life of Nobel physicist Hans Bethe.
Pauling Finding Aid
Another major addition to the resources available on the Special Collections website is the complete text of the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers finding aid. Long-delayed due to technical issues, a web version of the massive document — nearly 1,700 pages long when printed out — is now finally available, in full, on the web. Users now have access to listings for all of Pauling’s speeches, his article manuscripts, materials related to his unpublished books, and much, much more.
Keep watching the Special Events page for new video updates. Transcribed video of the 2008 Pauling Legacy Award lecture by Dr. Roderick MacKinnon is nearly ready to post, as are several additional presentations by a wide variety of highly-esteemed speakers. We are also preparing a major update to the Linus Pauling Day-by-Day calendar that will incorporate not only a large amount of new content, but also several exciting new features. Stay tuned…