Die Chronologie von Linus Pauling

Pauling speaking in Mainz, Germany, July 1983.

Pauling speaking in Mainz, Germany, July 1983.

Since we’re in an announcing mood, it gives us great pleasure to pass along word of another new Pauling resource recently made available online by the Special Collections & Archives Research Center: a German-language edition of Robert Paradowski’s Pauling Chronology.

Robert Paradowski’s chronology of the life and work of Linus Pauling, which we’ve written about in the past, is surely one of the most useful accounts of Pauling’s story available anywhere and almost certainly the best general overview that one can find online.  Paradowski is Pauling’s official biographer.  He knew Pauling well and compiled a significant corpus of one-on-one interviews that surely contain a great deal of unique information.  Those of us who spend time in the Pauling orbit have long anticipated the release of the Paradowski biography, rumored to be a three-volume work, but it has yet to see the light of day.

So until the publication of his epic, Pauling watchers with an interest in Paradowski’s work have to content themselves with the Chronology, which was first published in print in 1991 and later released online by Oregon State University in 2009.  Since then, we have done what we can to increase the accessibility of the text to larger audiences, beginning with a Spanish translation released in 2010.  The new German edition is likewise meant to act in this spirit of increased access to a valuable resource.  Future translations are anticipated as skill sets within the department avail themselves.


Pauling was comfortable with language.  His written English was impeccable – peppered throughout the Pauling Papers, one finds numerous examples of his correcting the grammar or style of other authors – and he was comfortable delivering lectures in essentially all of the romance languages. German, however, was Pauling’s strongest second language.

Carl Pauling, 1915.

Carl Pauling, 1915.

Pauling came from German stock on his father’s side. His grandfather Charles Henry Pauling, whom everyone called Carl, was born in the U.S. to recent German immigrants, and he eventually married a German woman named Adelheit Blanken.  In 1882 Carl and Adelheit moved to Oswego, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, and stayed there for the remainder of their lives.  Linus, who was born in 1901, spent a significant amount of time in his grandparents’ home, especially after his family had settled for good in Portland in 1909.  As Thomas Hager notes in his Pauling biography, Force of Nature, daily life in the grandparents’ home was imbued with the culture of the old country.

…the woodstove was always warm and the smell of rich German cakes filled the air. A sod cellar was packed with home-canned fruits and crocks of sauerkraut and pickles….Carl and Adelheit were devout Lutherans. Because there was no church in Oswego, every month they would invite a minister from across the river to hold services in their house. Linus sometimes sat among the small group of worshipers in the front parlor, listening to the service and hymns sung in German.

This early exposure to German spoken in the home gave Linus a leg up in his later studies of the language, which included two years of undergraduate class work at Oregon Agricultural College and, later, his passing of a compulsory exam during his doctoral studies at Caltech.

This study was of extreme use in that facility with German was crucial for a scientist in the early twentieth century.  Much of the more important work in the physical sciences was being published in German-language journals and many of the leading minds were based at German universities.

An academic procession at the University of Munich, 1927. Note the arrow pointing to Arnold Sommerfeld.  Photo likely taken by Linus Pauling.

An academic procession at the University of Munich, 1927. Note the arrow pointing to Arnold Sommerfeld. Photo likely taken by Linus Pauling.

Pauling gained first hand knowledge of these facts during his crucially important Guggenheim trip in 1926-1927.  Based mostly in Germany, Pauling made contacts with a number of German scientists including Arnold Sommerfeld, an early mentor of great consequence.  Sommerfeld’s lectures made a deep impression on Pauling and it was not long before Pauling was taking notes, writing papers and giving talks in German.  This capacity only sharpened over the course of his European stay and served Pauling exceedingly well for the remainder of his life.

The German translation of Paradowski’s Pauling Chronology is available at http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/coll/pauling/diechronologie/page1.html

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La Cronología de Pauling

Mrs. Manuel Ballester and Professor Mortonez-Moreno, Ava Helen and Linus Pauling. Seville, Spain, 1975.

We’re very pleased to announce that the Pauling Chronology, written by biographer Robert Paradowski and published online in 2009, is now available in Spanish.

We believe that the Paradowski Chronology is the best “one-stop” resource available online for those interested in learning more about Linus and Ava Helen Pauling’s life. Elegantly written and rigorously detailed over the course of twenty-eight chapters, the Chronology is, in effect, an index to the Paulings’ life story.

As one might expect, the Chronology provides a thorough overview of the Paulings’ career achievements, from Linus’s early breakthroughs in chemistry, through the couple’s many years of peace work and Dr. Pauling’s later focus on orthomolecular medicine. Along the way Paradowski also notes important personal milestones in Linus and Ava Helen Pauling’s life – be it their various entanglements in social and academic politics, their battles with various health problems or important moments in the lives of their four children.

The Chronology translation project, which took our staff more than one year to complete, will hopefully prove to be an important tool in expanding the story of Linus and Ava Helen Pauling’s work to a much broader online audience. Future translations of the Chronology into additional languages are currently in the planning stages.


Nos alegra mucho anunciar que la Cronología de Pauling, escrita por biógrafo Robert Paradowski y publicada en el Internet en 2009, ya está disponible en español.

Creemos que la Cronología Paradowski es el mejor recurso que es disponible en un lugar en el Internet para la gente interesada en aprender más sobre las vidas de Linus Pauling y Ava Helen Pauling. Escrita elegantemente y detallada rigurosamente durante veintiocho capítulos, la Cronología es, en efecto, un índice de la historia de la vida de la familia Pauling.

Como uno puede anticipar, la Cronología proporciona una visión general amplia de los logros de la carrera de los Pauling, desde los grandes avances en química de Linus, hasta los muchos años del trabajo en la paz de la pareja y el enfoque posterior del Dr. Pauling en la medicina ortomolecular. En la Cronología Paradowski también anota hitos personales importantes en las vidas de Linus Pauling y Ava Helen – ya sea sus varios enredos en la política social y académica, sus batallas con varios problemas de salud o momentos importantes en las vidas de sus cuatro hijos.

El proyecto de la traducción de la Cronología, el cual le llevó a nuestro personal más de un año de terminar, con optimismo resultará a ser un herramienta importante en extender la historia del trabajo de Linus y Ava Helen Pauling a una audiencia del Internet mucha más amplia. Traducciones futuras de la Cronología a idiomas adicionales están en las fases de planificación.

The Pauling Centenary Conference

The date February 28, 2001 is meaningful to many residents of the Pacific Northwest.  At 10:54 AM that morning, the Nisqually earthquake, a magnitude 6.8 temblor located northwest of Olympia, Washington, shook the earth beneath the greater Seattle-Tacoma area and ultimately caused over $1 billion in damage.

Some 200 miles south in Corvallis, faint signs of the earthquake were noticed.  In the lobby of the LaSells Stewart Center, for instance, observers noted coats on a coat rack mysteriously swaying.  At the time, few thought much of what they were seeing however, given that an important local event (if something short of seismic) occupied the attentions of most.  February 28, 2001 was the one-hundredth anniversary of Linus Pauling’s birth and the LaSells Stewart Center was the site of a day-long conference honoring Pauling’s memory.


“In 1986, just before [Lloyd] Jeffress died, Pauling wrote him a letter in which he caught him up on the events of the past year. The last paragraph of the letter related a recent article that Pauling had published in Nature magazine, which had stirred up controversy in the scientific community. A reporter had asked Pauling, ‘Do you have a liking for controversy?’ ‘No,’ replied Pauling. ‘I have a liking for the truth.’ This phrase, ‘a liking for the truth,’ and its surrogate implications of Pauling’s passion for discovery, even in the face of controversy, is a theme of this conference, and we hope that you will be enlightened and entertained by what is to follow.”

-Cliff Mead, centenary conference introductory remarks

“A Liking for the Truth: Truth and Controversy in the Work of Linus Pauling” assembled a multifaceted group of speakers who directly and indirectly reflected upon Pauling’s legacy as a scientist, activist and human being.  The day’s keynote speaker was Dr. Ahmed Zewail, the Linus Pauling Chair Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, and the recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.  Zewail’s topic was the evolution of femtoscience, the study of atomic behaviors that occur in very short periods of time, a breathtaking field of research that allows scientists to, in Zewail’s words, “see bonds and atoms.”

Whereas Zewail spoke of time, another of the day’s presentations, by crystallographer and long-time Pauling family friend Dr. Jack Dunitz, focused on space.  Dunitz, Pauling and many others enmeshed in the practice of crystallography shared a deep interest in developing theories governing the rules that underlie “closest-packing” in molecules, work that Pauling and Max Delbrück extended into the realm of biology through their theory of molecular complementarity.

dunitz

Jack Dunitz at a Caltech graduate student outing, ca. 1948.

Two Pauling biographers were likewise involved in the centenary activities.  Tom Hager spoke eloquently of the real world consequences that enveloped the Paulings as their peace work assumed international prominence.  Dr. Robert Paradowski reflected upon a turbulent period of the Paulings lives as a young couple, as the pair toured through Europe during Linus’s Guggenheim studies in 1926-1927.

Perhaps the day’s most broadly interesting talk, however, was delivered by Linus Pauling, Jr., the eldest of the four Pauling children.  Recalling memories as varied as Christmas traditions, the family cars and an eventful restaurant meal, Linus Jr. shed insight into a world hidden from even the closest of colleagues and most meticulous of biographers.  In the video excerpt below, Linus Jr. recounts the details of a cherished family tradition – regular vacations to the Painted Canyon desert.

Transcribed video of the Pauling Centenary Conference is available here.

Pauling and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s: The Thawing of Frosty Relations

As the dynamics of Soviet dogma evolved, the enmity surrounding the so-called “resonance controversy” simmered down, and by the late 1960s Pauling had gone from being a disparaged name in Soviet chemistry to a respected scientist and much-admired advocate of nuclear test bans and international peace.

Pauling’s first visit to the Soviet Union in 1957 did a great deal to rehabilitate his scientific reputation among Soviet scientists.  In his Pauling Chronology, Dr. Robert Paradowski notes that “Russia remind[ed] Pauling of Eastern Oregon, and the Russian people seem[ed] to him like Western Americans. ”

This visit was swiftly followed by his election to the Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1958 – along with Detlev Bronk, the head of the National Academy of Sciences, Pauling was the first American to receive full recognition from the Soviet Academy.  Predictably, the honor was likewise enough to raise the eyebrow of the U.S. media, including the New York Times, which suggested that “it is impossible in today’s world position simply and naively to ignore the political implications” of the decoration.

Linus and Ava Helen traveled to the Soviet Union a second time in 1961 to attend the second centenary celebrations of the Academy of sciences, where they took the opportunity to deliver a handful of lectures, and to see more of the country, including a visit to Siberia and the shores of Lake Baikal.

The early 1960s also saw the reacceptance of Pauling’s formerly disgraced popularizer, Ia. K. Syrkin, back into the Soviet Academy of Sciences. By 1970 Pauling was recognized by the Soviet government for his peace activism with the Lenin Peace Prize, a honor bestowed upon foreign individuals conducting notable work in furthering international peace. Eight years later the Soviet Academy of Sciences decided to formally recognize Pauling’s scientific achievements by awarding him the Lomonosov Gold Medal, the highest award the Academy gave.

Lenin Peace Prize medal, June 15, 1970

Lenin Peace Prize medal, June 15, 1970

Lomonosov Medal, awarded by the Presidium of the Academy of the USSR, September 1978.

Lomonosov Medal, awarded by the Presidium of the Academy of the USSR, September 1978.

As might have been expected, Pauling did not hesitate to use his increasing fame in the Soviet Union to continue his advocacy for nuclear testing bans and better cooperation between the Soviet Union and the United States. His correspondence with Nikita Khrushchev, as contained in the Pauling archive, provides a revealing look into the increasingly intimate relationship between advocacy and diplomacy that helped define Pauling’s later peace work.

Draft of a letter from Linus Pauling to Nikita Khruschev, October 18, 1961.

Draft of a letter from Linus Pauling to Nikita Khruschev, October 18, 1961.

Khruschchev's response to Pauling, October 27, 1961.

Khruschchev's response to Pauling, October 27, 1961.

Learn more at the website “Linus Pauling and the International Peace Movement,” available via the Linus Pauling Online portal.

Paradowski’s Pauling Chronology

Ava Helen, Linus Jr. and Linus Pauling, 1930.

Ava Helen, Linus Jr. and Linus Pauling, 1930.

According to Zelek S. Herman ‘the best biography in my opinion is the short one by Pauling’s only authorized biographer, Robert J. Paradowski who has extensively studied Pauling’s scientific work and who knew him for many years.’ Unfortunately this biography/chronology, though written in English, was published in a hard-to-find Japanese volume. Paradowski’s 1972 University of Wisconsin Ph.D. thesis titled The Structural Chemistry of Linus Pauling is the only compulsively readable thesis that has come my way in a lifetime of sitting on M.S. and Ph.D. final orals. Subsequently Paradowski got to know Pauling intimately, was anointed as his authorized biographer, and has spent the last 20 years accumulating a unique store of knowledge concerning his subject. Since Paradowski writes well and has unusually catholic interests, the book – or rather books, since it will be in at least three volumes – should be well worth waiting for. But for how long? Paradowski tells me he definitely expects completion by the centennial year, 2001…. I hope I live to read it!

Derek Davenport, “The Many Lives of Linus Pauling: A Review of Reviews,” Journal of Chemical Education, 73 (9): A210.  September 1996.

Every year, in celebration of Linus Pauling’s birthday anniversary, we try to release a new project either on or near February 28th.  Nine years ago, we participated in the mounting of a small plaque in Oregon State University’s Education Hall Room 201, which identified the location where Linus and Ava Helen Pauling first met in 1922.  The next year marked the Pauling Centenary and a large day-long conference was held in honor of the occasion.  Since then, most of our birthday releases have come in the form of websites – Linus Pauling Research Notebooks in 2002, The Race for DNA in 2003, Awards, Honors and Medals in 2004, and an expanded version of Linus Pauling and the Nature of the Chemical Bond in 2008.

The 2009 release is Robert Paradowski‘s The Pauling Chronology, a 27-page TEI-based web resource, the content of which Derek Davenport referenced in the 1996 quote above.  The Chronology is being advertised as “the most detailed overview of Linus Pauling’s ancestry, life and work available on the web,” a statement that we feel can be made without hesitation.  As Davenport notes, Paradowski enjoyed the most-unfettered access to Pauling of any of his at-least four biographers, and has compiled what is surely the most extensive compilation of biographical interviews conducted with Pauling and his associates.

Consquently, it is chiefly Paradowski upon whom we must rely to fill in certain scarcely-documented eras of Pauling’s life, particularly his early years as a boy in Condon and Portland, and as a young man at Oregon Agricultural College.

As a web resource, the Chronology likewise addresses certain major topics that have yet to be properly explored by other members of the Pauling online collective (ourselves, of course, included).  Pauling’s historic program of research on the structure of proteins, for instance, while touched upon in The Race for DNA, has not yet received the attention that it deserves, at least in terms of an Internet presence.  The Chronology helps to remedy this situation.  Even moreso, Pauling’s controversial infatuation with vitamin C, as well as the unsteady early history of the institute which bears his name, receive a fair and thorough treatment in Paradowski’s write-up.

Paradowki’s knowledge of subject and skill as a writer shine through in his Chronology, traits which lend ever-increasing urgency to Davenport’s crucial question, “But for how long?”  The centennial year has clearly come and gone with no major biography published and no hints that it might soon be on the way.  No hints, that is, except, perhaps, this passage that Dr. Paradowski used to close the talk that he gave at the 2001 Centenary conference:

Toward the end of [Pauling’s] life, someone had sent him a Bible with gigantic print.  He was having trouble with his vision, but because this book had such gigantic print he was reading the Bible again….  And perhaps he ran into this passage in Ecclesiastes, and I’d like to quote it as my finish:  “Let us search then like those who must find, and find like those who continue to search, for it is written the man who has reached the end is only beginning.”  And that’s the way I feel about my work on Pauling – no matter how much I do, it seems like I’m just beginning.

The Pauling Chronology and the transcribed video of a 1995 talk by Dr. Robert Paradowski are both available via the Linus Pauling Online portal.

Snapshots of Pauling’s Childhood in Condon

[Ed Note: The Pauling Blog wears a black armband today for the Oregon Historical Society Library and the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, both of which have been forced to close due to budget considerations.  The state of Oregon is little more than two weeks removed from its sesquicentennial celebration and it is our sincere hope that these two cultural institutions, both of which are fundamental to our understanding of what it means to be an Oregonian, are soon able to re-open to the public and continue celebrating the state’s 150th birthday.]

Linus Pauling, posing in his buffalo-skin chaps, 1906.

Linus Pauling, posing in his buffalo-skin chaps, 1906.

Linus Pauling is well known for his brilliance, wit, drive, and determination. Even at a young age, he showed a remarkable interest in academics and a surprising level of self-motivation. His native intelligence can perhaps be attributed to biology, but his penchant for learning and his commitment to work are products of his experience. Pauling’s biographers have devoted years to unlocking the secrets of  just what made him so unique, picking apart his life experiences and teasing out distant memories. Even so, much about Pauling – especially the young Pauling – remains a mystery.

In the spirit of psychological discovery, The Pauling Blog would like to take a moment to explore Pauling’s childhood in Condon as described by those who have made a career of recording his life. In his introduction to Linus Pauling: Scientist and Peacemaker, Tom Hager sets the stage for an in-depth look at Pauling’s childhood.

What forces created Linus Pauling? Even after all this time and study, I cannot say. But I can provide some clues. The first come from his early years. I think it significant that Pauling was born and raised in the Western U.S., in a place and at a time when the pioneer virtues of bravery, perseverance, and hard work were extolled; where people were valued for the work they did, not the name they carried; and where egalitarianism and openness were valued.

– Hager, Thomas. “The Roots of Genius,” in Linus Pauling: Scientist and Peacemaker. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2001, 3-4.

Pauling has often been called odd, eccentric, and sometimes even crazy. His dedication to the fight for peace was seen as courageous by some, and ludicrous by others. Whatever the case, Pauling’s Condon relatives did have a peculiar family history.

His father’s family was of sober and hard-working German immigrant stock; his mother’s was somewhat more eccentric. On his mother’s side, the Darling family, he had a grandfather who practiced law without a degree; a great uncle who communed with an Indian spirit; an aunt who toured the state as a safecracker (legally; she practiced her skills for a safe company); and a mother whose chronic anemia kept her bedridden for long stretches.

– Hager, 4.

In an unpublished manuscript, Robert Paradowski, a biographer who worked closely with Pauling over multiple decades, describes the individuals that Pauling encountered during his time in Condon. Some of them, Pauling remembered in his later years, even helped shape his thinking.

“He spent his early years in Condon, an arid Western town in the interior of Oregon, where his father owned a drugstore and where young Linus encountered both cowboys, one of whom showed him the proper way to sharpen a pencil with a knife, and Indians, one of whom showed him how to dig for edible roots. These two thing impressed him deeply: that there was correct technique for doing things and that there were people who had useful knowledge of nature.”

– Paradowski, Robert J.: Typescripts. LP Correspondence Box #306.1

Many of Pauling’s memories of his childhood focused on Herman Pauling, his father and Condon’s local pharmacist. When interviewed about his relationship with his father, Pauling recalled a kind and caring man who protected his family, even at cost to himself.

“When he was about seven years old, Linus remembered, he and his cousin were caught while exploring a half-finished building by a burly workman. Linus tried to wriggle out a window but the workman caught him by his pants, dragged him back inside, and beat him with a piece of lath. Linus ran home sobbing. He tearfully told his story to Herman, who listened carefully, then led his son by the hand through Condon’s streets in search of the workman. They found the fellow eating lunch in the crowded dining room of the town’s largest hotel. Herman asked him if he had beaten his son. When the man answered yes, Linus recalled, Herman knocked the fellow to the floor – and was subsequently arrested and tried for assault.”

– Hager, Thomas. Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995, 30

It should be noted that Pauling’s memory was at least partially incorrect and that, in reality, Herman was not arrested for assault. Instead, he was tried for bootlegging, an accusation that proved to be false.

Finally, we must remember that Pauling, though he grew up to be a highly-respected scientist, was once mischievous. In an interview with Victor and Mildred Goertzel, he recalled one of his youthful (and occasionally disastrous) misadventures.

“When he was about five, he had a bitter experience. He had a new little wagon with a wooden body, which he and his playmates put in a five gallon tin can to make it into a steam roller. They built a fire in it, and the new wagon was badly charred. He hid the wagon and succeeded – or thinks he did – in keeping his father from knowing what happened.”

– Goertzel, Victor and Mildred Goertzel. “Notes on Interview with Pauling (First Interview),” 1965.  LP Biographical Box 5.011.1

Though these anecdotes cannot decode Pauling, they offer us a rare glimpse at events that shaped him and his role in the world. In considering his childhood we are reminded that, despite his later achievements, he was once a little boy much like any other.

Learn more at Linus Pauling Online.

Oregon 150

The Building Blocks of Linus Pauling Day-by-Day

The technical workflow of Linus Pauling Day-by-Day

fig. 1 The technical workflow of Linus Pauling Day-by-Day

Any given page in the Linus Pauling Day-by-Day calendar is the product of up to four different XML records.  These records describe the various bits of data that comprise the project – be they document summaries, images or full-text transcripts.  The data contained in the various XML records are then interpreted by XSL stylesheets, which redistribute the information and generate local HTML files as their output.  The local HTML is, in turn, styled using CSS and then uploaded to the web.

Got all that?

In reality, the process is not quite as complicated as it may seem.  Today’s post is devoted to describing the four XML components that serve as building blocks for the calendar project.  Later on this week, we’ll talk more about the XSL side of things. (For some introductory information on XML and XSL, see this post, which discusses our use of these tools in creating The Pauling Catalogue)

Preliminary work in WordPerfect

The 68,000+ document summaries that comprise the meat of Linus Pauling Day-by-Day have been compiled by dozens of student assistants over the past ten years.  Typically, each student has been assigned a small portion of the collection and is charged with summarizing, in two or three sentences, each document contained in their assigned area.  These summaries have, to date, been written in a series of WordPerfect documents.

The January 30, 2009 launch of Linus Pauling Day-by-Day is being referred to, internally, as Calendar 1.5.  This is in part because of several major workflow changes that we have on tap for future calendar work, a big part of it being a movement out of WordPerfect.  While the word processing approach has worked pretty well for our students – it’s an interface with which they’re familiar, and includes all the usual advantages of a word processing application (spellchecking, etc.) – it does present fairly substantial complications for later stages of the work flow.

For one, everything has to be exported out of the word processing documents and marked-up in XML by hand.  For another, the movement out of a word processor and into xml often carries with it issues related to special characters, especially “&,” “smart quotes” and “em dash,” all of which can play havoc with certain xml applications.

Our plan for Calendar 2.0 is to move out of a word processing interface for the initial data entry in favor of an XForms interface, but that’s fodder for a later post.

The “Year XML”

Once a complete set of data has been compiled in WordPerfect, the content is then moved into XML.  All of the event summaries that our students write are contained in what might be called “Year XML” records.  An example of the types of data that are contained in these XML files is illustrated here in fig. 2.  Note that the information in the fig. 2 slide is truncated for display purposes – all of the “—-” markers represent text that has been removed for sake of scaling the illustration – but that generally speaking, the slide refers to the contents of the January 2, 1940 and August 7, 1940 Day-by-Day pages, the latter of which will also serve as our default illustrations reference.

Cursory inspection of the “Year XML” slide reveals one of the mark-up language’s key strengths – it’s simplicity.  For the most part, all of the tags used are easily-understandable to humans and the tag hierarchy that organizes the information follows a rather elementary logic.  The type of record is identified using <calendar>, months are tagged as <month>, days are tagged as <day> and document summaries are tagged as <event>.

The one semi-befuddling aspect of the “Year XML” syntax is the i.d. system used in reference to illustrations and transcripts.  After much experimentation, we have developed an internal naming system that works pretty well in assigning unique identifiers to every item in the Pauling archive.  The system is primarily based upon a document’s Pauling Catalogue series location and folder identifier, although since the Catalogue is not an item-level inventory (not completely, anyway) many items require further description in their identifier.  In the most common case of letters, the further description includes identifying the correspondents and including a date.

Fig. 2 provides an example of three identifiers.  The first is <record><id series=”09″>1940i.38</id></record>, which is the “Snapshot” reference for the 1940 index page.  This identifier is relatively simple as it defines a photograph contained in the Pauling Catalogue Photographs and Images series (series 09), the entirety of which is described on the item level.  So this XML identifier utilizes only a series notation (“09”) and a Pauling Catalogue notation (1940i.38).

The two other examples in Fig. 2 are both letters.  The first is <record><id series=”01″>corr136.9-lp-giguere-19400102</id></record>, a letter from Linus Pauling to Paul Giguere located in the Pauling Catalogue Correspondence series (series 01) in folder 136.9, and used on Day-by-Day as the illustration for the first week of January, 1940.  Because the folder is not further described on the item level, there exists a need for more explication in the identifier of this digital object.  Hence the listing of the correspondents involved and the date on which the letter was written.

The second example is a similar case: <record><id series=”11″>sci14.038.9-lp-weaver-19400807</id></record>, used as the Day-by-Day illustration for the first full week of August 1940.  In this instance, however, the original document is held in Pauling Catalogue series 11, Science, and is a letter written by Pauling to Warren Weaver on August 7, 1940.

METS Records to Power the Illustrations

We’ve talked about METS records a few times in the past, and have defined them as “all-in-one containers for digital objects.”  The Pauling to Weaver illustration mentioned above is a good example of this crucial piece of functionality, in that it is used as a week illustration in the August 1940 component of the Day-by-Day project, and is also a supporting document on the “It’s in the Blood!” documentary history website.  Despite its dual use, the original document was only ever scanned once and described once in METS and MODS.  Once an item is properly encoded in a METS record, it becomes instantly available for repurposing throughout our web presence.

Just about everything that we need to know about a scanned document is contained in its METS record.  In the case of Day-by-Day, we can see how various components of the Pauling to Weaver METS record are extracted to display on two different pages of the project.  Fig. 3 is a screenshot of this page, the “Week Index View” for the August 7, 1940 Day-by-Day page (all of the days for this given week will display the same illustration, but will obviously feature different events and transcripts listings).  Fig. 4 is a screenshot of the “Full Illustration View,” wherein the user has clicked on the Week Index illustration and gained access to both pages of the letter, as well as a more-detailed description of its contents.

Below (fig. 5) is an annotated version of the full METS record for the Pauling to Weaver letter.  As you’ll note once you click on it, fig. 5 is huge, but it’s worth a look in that, among other details, it gives an indication of how different components of the record are distributed to different pages. For example:

  • The Object Title, “Letter from Linus Pauling to Warren Weaver,” which displays in both views.
  • The Object Summary, “Pauling requests that Max Perutz…,” which displays only in the Full Illustration View.
  • The Object Date, used in both views.
  • The Local Object Identifier, sci14.038.9-lp-weaver-19400804, which displays at the bottom of the Full Illustration View.
  • The Page Count, used only in the Week Index View.
  • Crucially, the 400 pixel-width jpeg images, which are stored in one location on our web server (corresponding, again, with Pauling Catalogue series location), but in this example retrieved for display only in the Week Index View.
  • And likewise, the 600 pixel-width jpeg images, which are retrieved for Day-by-Day display in the Full Illustration View, but also used for reference display in the Documentary History projects.
fig. 5 An annotated version of the full METS record for digital object sci14.038.9-lp-weaver-19400804

fig. 5 An annotated version of the full METS record for digital object sci14.038.9-lp-weaver-19400804

An additional word about the illustrations used in Linus Pauling Day-by-Day

One of the major new components of the “1.5 Calendar” launch is full-page support for illustrations of ten pages or less – in the 1.0 version of the project, only the first page of each illustration was displayed, no matter the length of the original document.  Obviously this is a huge upgrade in the amount and quality of the content that we are able to provide from within the calendar.  The question begs to be asked, however, “why ten pages or less?”

In truth, the ten pages rule is somewhat arbitrary, but it works pretty well in coping with a major scaling problem that we face with the Day-by-Day project.  Users will note that the “Full Illustration View” for all Day-by-Day objects presents the full page content (when available) on a single html page, as opposed to the cleaner interface used on our Documentary History sites.  There’s a good reason for this.  In the instance of the Documentary History interface, essentially two html pages are generated for every original page of a document used as an illustration: a reference view and a large view.  This approach works well for the Documentary History application, in that even very large objects, such as Pauling’s 199-page long Berkeley Lectures manuscript, can be placed on the web without the size of a project exploding out of control – the Berkeley Lectures comprise 398 html pages, which is a lot, but still doable.

Linus Pauling Day-by-Day, on the other hand, currently requires that the full complement of images theoretically comprising an illustration be used, specifically, for each unique day of the week for which an image is chosen.  In other words, if the Berkeley Lectures were chosen to illustrate a week within the calendar, and the full content of the digital object were to be displayed for each day of that week using the same clean interface as a Documentary History, a sum total of 2,786 (199 x 2 x 7) html pages would need to be generated to accomplish the mission.  For that week only.  Obviously this is not a sustainable proposition. By contrast, the current version 1.5 approach always requires 7 html pages for each week, though full image support and super-clean display are sometimes sacrificed in the process.

Calendar 2.0 will deal with the issue using a database approach, but again, this is a different topic for a different time.

Last but not least, TEI Lite

We’ve discussed TEI Lite in the past as well and will not spend a great deal of time with it here, except to reiterate that it is a simple mark-up language that works well in styling full-text transcripts and other similar documents for the web.

There are nearly 2,000 TEI Lite documents included in Linus Pauling Day-by-Day, virtually all of them transcripts of letters sent or received by Linus Pauling.  Transcript references within the Year XML are illustrated in fig. 2 above – they follow the exact same naming convention as our METS records, except that the mets.xml suffix is replaced by tei.xml.  It is worth noting that rough drafts of most of the text that was eventually encoded in TEI for the Day-by-Day project were generated using OCR software.  And while OCRing has improved mightily over the years, it still does have its quirks, which is why some of you might find, for example, the lower-case letter l substituted for by the number 1 in a few of the transcripts currently online. (we’re working on it)

The TEI Lite mark-up for the Pauling to Weaver letter is illustrated in fig. 6, as is, in fig. 7, the encoding for the biographical chronology (written by Dr. Robert Paradowski) used on the 1940 index page.  Note, in particular, the use of <div> tags to declare a year’s worth of information in the Paradowski mark-up.  These tags were included as markers for the xsl stylesheet to pull out a given chunk of data to be placed on a given year’s index page.  The entire Paradowski chronology will be going online soon, and once again that project, as with Day-by-Day, will be generated from only this single record.

fig. 6 The TEI Lite mark-up for Pauling's August 7, 1940 letter to Warren Weaver.

fig. 6 The TEI Lite mark-up for Pauling's August 7, 1940 letter to Warren Weaver.

fig. 7 The TEI Lite mark-up for one year of the Paradowski chronology

fig. 7 The TEI Lite mark-up for one year of the Paradowski chronology

Custom XML, METS records and TEI Lite – these are the building blocks of Linus Pauling Day-by-Day.  Check back later this week when we’ll discuss the means by which the blocks are assembled into a finished website using XSL stylesheets.