Scope and Content
Title: Albert R. Hibbs Papers
Bulk dates: 1931-1999
Collection Number: Consult repository.
Hibbs, Albert R.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2203
Fax: (626) 449-5720
Language of Material: The records are in English.
In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission
from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical
property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances,
the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate
curator for further information.
[Identification of item], Albert R. Hibbs Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
The collection was a gift from Victoria Hibbs on 1 March 2010.
Albert Roach Hibbs (1924-2003) was born in Akron, Ohio on 19 October 1924. Raised nearby in Chillicothe, Ohio, Al was the
second child of Albert Samuel Hibbs, manager of the Chillicothe Water Department, and Alberta Roach Hibbs, a chemist, and
brother to older sister, Agnes, born two years earlier in 1922.
Al Hibbs moved to southern California in 1942 to attend the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) as an undergraduate
student under the Navy‟s V-12 program, where he met his lifelong friend and collaborator, Roy L. Walford, later a Professor
of Pathology at UCLA School of Medicine and a crew member of Biosphere 2. Hibbs earned his Bachelor of Science in Physics
from Caltech in 1945 and after a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy following World War II, was awarded a Master of Science in
Mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1947. Prior to returning to California in 1950, he and Walford spent over a
year traveling the Caribbean aboard a 40-foot sailboat, Adonde, after earning the money to support the trip by exploiting
the mechanical quirks of roulette wheels to beat the odds in Reno in 1947 and in Las Vegas in 1948. In 1950 Hibbs began work
as a research engineer in the Research and Analysis Section at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), then a rocket research
laboratory operated by Caltech for the U.S. Army and transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
later that year. The following year he returned to Caltech in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Physics, which he was awarded in 1955.
As a doctoral student, his advisor was Nobel physicist Richard Feynman; the two became close friends and collaborators, coauthoring
the textbook Quantum Mechanics and Path Integrals, published in 1965.
Hibbs‟ theoretical work at JPL laid the foundation for the successful launching of the country‟s first satellites and lunar
probes. As the head of the Research and Analysis Section, he was the systems designer for the first successful U.S. satellite,
Explorer 1, in 1958. He helped create and served as Chief of the Space Sciences Division from 1960 to 1962, designing instruments
and carrying out scientific studies on the Moon and planets. He held several other research and managerial positions during
his tenure at JPL, including Senior Staff Scientist of the Office of Plans and Programs (1967-1969), assigned to long-range
planning of Laboratory activities; Manager of Transportation Technology Office (1969-1970), responsible for directing the
application of space technology to the solution of problems in transportation; Manager of Program Planning and Coordination
(1976-1980), establishing new space development programs and projects; Manager of Strategic Planning, developing concepts
for future space activities; and Manager of Space Science and Applications Program, involving research in Earth and space
sciences, instrument development, and preliminary design studies of future space flights. He retired from JPL as the Director
of Space Science in November 1986.
Hibbs left JPL from 1962 to 1967 on special assignment as staff scientist for the Arms Control Study Group (ACSG) of the U.S.
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) to study how arms-control treaties could be monitored from space.
Working independently, with Caltech, JPL, and NASA, and with local and national broadcasting outlets, Hibbs hosted and produced
a number of radio and television programs for both adults and children during his career. Hibbs emerged as the “Voice of JPL”
and became the spokesperson for the unmanned spacecraft missions during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. With an aptitude for
making difficult science understandable, he chronicled for the world, via television and radio, the Ranger and Surveyor missions
to the Moon; the Mariner missions to Venus, Mars, and Mercury; the Viking missions to Mars; and the Voyager missions to the
outer planets. He received numerous awards and honors for his television and radio work, including the George Foster Peabody
Broadcasting Award in 1963 for hosting the NBC weekly children‟s television program “Exploring” which ran from 1962 to 1966.
Additionally, he received the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation National Media Award for “Exploring” in 1962 and 1965, and for
his work on “World of Science” as the best science radio program for youth in 1965. In 1984 he was awarded the NASA Exceptional
Service Medal, “especially for his outstanding achievements in explaining the complexities and significance of space exploration
to the general public via radio and television.”
Hibbs maintained close ties to Caltech throughout his career and into retirement. From 1965 to 1974 he taught courses at Caltech
in physics, government, national security, and transportation issues. He performed with Men‟s Glee Club and in several theatrical
productions with Theater Arts at California Institute of Technology (TACIT) during the 1980s and 1990s. In retirement, he
was on the Board of Directors for both the Caltech Y and the Volunteer Professionals for Medical Advancement (VPMA), a group
of retired JPL engineers and scientists working with local doctors and hospitals to develop new medical technologies.
He was active in a number of projects outside of JPL, including Biosphere 2 as a member of the Project Review Committee from
1987 to 1992 and the Geosphere Project as a member of the Eyes on Earth Board of Directors from 1989 to 1995. He was also
involved in the development of the Morgantown Area Rapid Transit System (MARTS), funded by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration
(UMTA), which he continued work on after JPL abandoned the system management role.
Hibbs authored numerous articles on diverse subjects in a variety of publications, both popular and technical. In addition
to published works, he composed poetry, stories, and script ideas that never reached publication. He also gave speeches on
a variety of subjects to diverse audiences ranging from professional organizations to neighborhood churches.
As a hobby he enjoyed making kinetic sculpture. He was also a member of the Southern California Skeptics, a group affiliated
with the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) that aimed to promote and disseminate
the fair and accurate investigation of alleged claims of paranormal occurrences.
He married Florence Pavin in 1950; they had two children, Victoria Pavin Hibbs (b. 1954) and Bart Dean Hibbs (b. 1955). Widowed
in 1970, Hibbs remarried Marka Oliver in 1971; she had two children from a previous marriage, Alicia Cortrite and Lawrence
(Larry) Wilson. Hibbs died on 24 February 2003 of complications following heart surgery at Huntington Memorial Hospital in
Pasadena, California at the age of 78.
Scope and Content
The Albert R. Hibbs Papers, 1884-2009 (80 boxes) document the personal life and career of Hibbs as a manager and scientist
at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the relationships between JPL, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA),
and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the development of the solar system exploration programs. Hibbs‟
consulting work for television and radio programs, Biosphere 2, and Morgantown Area Rapid Transit System (MARTS) are also
documented. Although the collection arrived at The Huntington in disarray, original order of the materials was maintained
when possible and the arrangement reflects Hibbs‟ general organization by correspondent, subject, or format of materials.
The collection is divided into ten series: Audio Visual Materials, Consulting Files, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Notebooks,
Personal Files, Photographs and Negatives, Presentations and Speeches, Publications and Writings, Teaching Files, and Oversize.
The bulk of collection materials date from 1931 to 1999 and consists of audio and video tapes, clippings, correspondence,
memoranda, notes, photographs, publications, speeches, and writings. As the collection is arranged by both subject and format
of the materials, researchers should be aware that materials are often dispersed through the series. For example, materials
related to specific subjects are frequently represented in the JPL and Notebooks Series; similarly, Hibbs‟ friendship and
collaboration with Roy L. Walford is documented in the Correspondence and Aging Research and Writings subseries of the Personal
Series, in the Space Bioshpheres Ventures subseries of the Consulting series, as well as in the Audio Visual Materials Series.
Correspondence is also dispersed throughout the series.
The collection consists of the following series, described in detail within this document:
SERIES 1: Audio Visual Materials, 1963, 1965-1968, 1970, 1976, ca. 1977, 1979-1989, 1991- 1993, 1996-1997, 2001-2002, n.d.
SERIES 2: Consulting Files, 1950, 1952, 1960-1967, 1969-1975, 1980-1981, 1983-2000, 2002- 2003, n.d.
SERIES 3: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1955, 1957-1997, 1999-2000, 2007-2009, n.d.
SERIES 4: Notebooks, 1956-1958, 1960-1996, n.d.
SERIES 5: Personal Files, 1884-1885, 1910, 1931-1933, 1940, 1942-1953, 1955, 1957-2001, 2003-2007, n.d.
SERIES 6: Photographs and Negatives, ca. 1870s-1890s, 1906, ca. 1900s, 1912-1915, ca. 1910s, 1922, 1924-1926, ca. 1927, 1928-1936,
ca. 1930s, 1938-1952, ca. 1950s, 1955-1987, 1989-1992, 1996, 2000-2001, ca. early 2000s, 2005, n.d.
SERIES 7: Presentations and Speeches, 1958-1962, 1964-1968, 1970, 1974-1975, ca. 1970s, 1977-1990, 1992-1993, 1995-1997, 2000,
SERIES 8: Publications and Writings, 1943, 1951-1970, 1972-1975, 1977, 1979, 1982-1983, 1985-1987, ca. 1998, n.d.
SERIES 9: Teaching Files, 1972-1976, n.d.
SERIES 10: Oversize, 1890-1935, 1938, 1945, 1955, 1957, ca. 1958, 1959, 1962-1963, ca. 1964, 1965, ca. 1966, ca. 1971, 1980-1981,
1984, 1986, ca. early 2000s, n.d.
A detailed container list is available through the Manuscripts Department.
Hibbs, Albert R.
Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips) 1918-1988
Walford, Roy L.
California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology. Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (U.S.)
United States. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Biosphere 2 (Project)
Explorer 1 (Artificial satellite)
Explorer 1 (Artificial satellite)--Orbit
Satellite image maps
Space flight to asteroids
Space flight to Jupiter
Space flight to Mars
Space flight to Mercury
Space flight to the moon
Space flight to the moon on television
Space flight to Saturn
Space flight to Venus
Outer space--Civilian use
Science--Study and teaching (Elementary)--United States
Science--Study and teaching (Higher)--United States
Science television programs
Surveyor Program (U.S.)
Viking Mars Program (U.S.)
Chillicothe (Ross County, Ohio)
Cellulose nitrate film