Mary Jo Nye on Pauling’s Models

In the Fall of 2009 and Spring of 2010, Jane Nisselson, founder of the film and design studio Virtual Beauty, served at Resident Scholar in the OSU Libraries.  The intent of her visit was to gather research in support of a film which examines the importance of model building in science, both historically and in present day.

The above clip is a rough cut of part of this work.  It features OSU historian of science emeritus Dr. Mary Jo Nye discussing Pauling’s early breakthroughs in structural chemistry and the importance of model building within the chemical world.  “The iconography of chemistry,” she says, “is molecular representation.” All of the artifacts shown in the clip are held in the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers.

Nisselson’s film, tentatively titled “Unseen Beauty: The Molecule Imagined,” is still in development. For more preliminary clips of this project, see the Virtual Beauty website and the Virtual Beauty channel on Vimeo.

Goodbye Cliff

Today marks the final day in the office for Clifford Mead, the only Head of Special Collections that Oregon State University has ever known. He is retiring after twenty-four years of service to OSU Libraries, a time during which the institution has experienced tremendous growth.

When Linus Pauling donated his papers to OSU in April 1986, there was no Special Collections unit in what was then known as the Kerr Library. Recognizing that this major new acquisition required its own department, the library soon hired Cliff from Keene State College in New Hampshire to oversee the monumental task of shepherding the Pauling Papers into usable form. Items flowed from at least four different locations to Corvallis (and to a warehouse in Albany, as the original Special Collections facility was not large enough to house the archive) and the staff went to work.

In the two decades that followed, the more than 4,400 linear feet of materials that comprise the Pauling collection have been arranged, described and made available, many of them in digital form. (Currently, fourteen online resources related to Pauling, including this blog, have been released by the OSU Libraries Special Collections.) At the same time, the department has added more than two dozen ancillary book and manuscript collections, most of which focus on the history of science and technology in the twentieth century.

Linus Pauling, Cliff Mead and members of the Special Collections student staff. 1987.

With Cliff’s retirement, the library loses its last employee who worked closely with Linus Pauling. So too will it lose a wealth of knowledge concerning the history of the book, for Cliff is surely among the region’s most capable evaluators of rare book collections. Cliff has headed the organization of three conferences of international import, overseen the awarding of six Pauling Legacy Awards and coordinated the month-long visits of five Resident Scholars. In twenty-four years, he has attended countless meetings, led innumerable tours and taught scores of classes, acting always as a knowledgeable and enthusiastic ambassador for Special Collections.

As an emeritus professor, Cliff plans, among other pursuits, to continue working on a book project of his own and to follow his beloved Yankees with the same energy that he has devoted to his professional work. To those of us on staff in Special Collections, he will remain a generous mentor, gracious colleague and loyal friend.

Oregon State University has released an official press release announcing Cliff’s retirement, the text of which is appended below. For those interested in watching Cliff in action, check out this ten-minute tour of our facility, recorded in 2008.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Clifford Mead, an expert on the life of one of Oregon State University’s most celebrated alumni, Linus Pauling, and the man responsible for the growth of OSU Libraries’ world-class collections, is retiring after 24 years at the university.

Mead, who is head of Special Collections for OSU Libraries, will retire Jan. 1. His expertise in special collections administration has resulted in the development and growth of a collection that serves as a resource not only for the OSU community but for scholars from across the globe.

Mead has dedicated himself to making the OSU collections available to the public, explained Mary Jo Nye, the Horning Professor of Humanities and Professor of History emeritus.

Cliff Mead, Linus Pauling and biographer Thomas Hager on the OSU campus, March 1991.

“Cliff and his staff have pioneered online website communication of historically valuable documents, photographs, films, and other resources to the public,” Nye said. “He has been a real treasure at OSU whom countless visitors have found to be their engaging and omniscient guide in Special Collections.”

The focus of OSU Special Collections is on the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, with a broader emphasis on the history of 20th century science and technology. Mead has led the Special Collections’ development of digital resources, especially those that provide in-depth coverage of the life and work of Linus Pauling, the only recipient of two unshared Nobel Prizes.

“In addition to Professor Mead’s leadership in developing a truly innovative and world-renowned web presence for displaying the vast resources of the Special Collections department, he has provided exceptional opportunities for OSU students to have first-hand experience working with primary research materials,” said Karyle Butcher, former OSU University librarian and director of the OSU Press.

Cliff Mead with Warren Washington, 2010 recipient of the National Medal of Science.

Mead is recognized as the authority on the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers. He has authored several publications, and most recently co-edited with OSU’s Chris Petersen, “The Pauling Catalogue: Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers at Oregon State University” (2006).

Mead received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Syracuse University.

Paul Farber, an OSU distinguished professor emeritus, said Mead’s personality drove the collection.

“Cliff has that rare combination of intelligence, organization, personality, wit and humor that makes a university collection of papers and books into a Special Collection,” Farber said. “He has been at the center of creating this major asset at OSU, one that has large portions available online, and one that brings scholars from around the world to campus. He cannot be replaced, but he has built an institution that will persist.”

Larry Landis, OSU’s university archivist, will serve as interim director of Special Collections beginning Jan. 1. He has been at OSU since 1991.

Creating The Pauling Catalogue: Special Features

An image of young Pauling, used as an illustration in Biographical subseries 1.

An image of young Pauling, used as an illustration in Biographical subseries 1.

[Part 8 of 9]

Thanks in part to a number of special features that have been incorporated into the published Pauling Catalogue, the finished product is far from a simple listing of archival holdings.

For starters, each volume contains an introduction by either a major historian of science, a member of the Pauling family or a staffmember of the OSU Libraries Special Collections. Authors include two of Pauling’s biographers, Robert Paradowski and Tom Hager, as well as Robert Olby, the pre-eminent historian of DNA and the author of a forthcoming biography of Francis CrickMary Jo Nye, OSU history professor emeritus and a recent recipient of the Sarton Medal, also contributed a text, as did Linus Pauling, Jr., Linda Pauling Kamb and Barclay Kamb.

Volume One contains a forty-five page Timeline, enhanced with dozens of full-color illustrations, that chronicles the remarkable lives of Linus and Ava Helen Pauling. The Timeline was written by Robert Paradowski and, previous to its appearance in The Pauling Catalogue, had only been available in a very rare Japanese publication titled Linus Pauling: A Man of Intellect and Action. (so rare, in fact, that the only copy listed in WorldCat is the copy residing in the OSU Libraries Special Collections)  Short of the various Pauling biographies that have been written over the years, the Paradowski Timeline is, perhaps, the authoritative encapsulation of the Paulings’ life and work —  It’s inclusion is a terrific boon to The Pauling Catalogue.

An excerpt from the Paradowski Timeline, which appears in Volume 1 of The Pauling Catalogue.

An excerpt from the Paradowski Timeline, which appears in Volume 1 of The Pauling Catalogue.

Volume Two includes sixteen illustrated pages of extracts from Linus Pauling’s Oregon Agricultural College diary, written by the young freshman during the first months of his undergraduate pursuits in 1917 and 1918.  As noted in the introduction to this appendix:

Perhaps the most interesting of all the personal narratives in the Pauling collection is the sixty-three page “Diary (So-Called)” that a young Linus kept from August 1917 through the first several months of his freshman year at Oregon Agricultural College. The OAC diary provides an unusually candid glimpse into the life and personality of a typically uncertain teenager as he leaves the familiarity of home in pursuit of an advanced education. Along the way the reader learns of a photography-processing business that Linus and two friends attempt to establish, and likewise of a minor burn “caus[ing] the formation of blisters fully 1/3 cm. diameter on each of the four fingers of my dextrum.”

Indeed, the OAC diary contains a wide array of the young Pauling’s thoughts and adventures: the happy accident of quite randomly finding a slide rule while walking through a field; the palpable fear summoned in anticipation of impending undergraduate studies; the first pangs of a developing crush on an OAC co-ed named Irene Sparks, whom Linus quickly annoints as “the girl for me.”

A sample of Pauling's OAC diary.  Though his track and field pursuits did not yield much fruit, Pauling would indeed make the acquaintance of Troy Bogart -- a fellow member of Delta Upsilon fraternity.

A sample of Pauling's OAC diary. Though his track and field pursuits did not yield much fruit, Pauling would indeed make the acquaintance of Troy Bogart -- a fellow member of the Gamma Tau Beta fraternity. (later to become Delta Upsilon)

Each of the six volumes contains at least eight pages of color illustrations, as well as a full index listing of all illustrations that appear in a given volume. Volume Six concludes with a Technical Note and a Colophon, which explain the processes used in creating the The Pauling Catalogue and which have served as the foundation for many of the technical blog posts developed in this series.

The Pauling Catalogue

The Pauling Catalogue

Ultimately, it is our hope that the inclusion of these special features combine to add value to the finished project; to form a reference work that is as complete as it is authoritative.

The Pauling Catalogue is available for purchase at