Albert R. Hibbs Papers, 1884-2009

Finding aid prepared by Brook Engebretson and Emily Wittenberg.
Manuscripts Department
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2203
Fax: (626) 449-5720
Email: manuscripts@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
2011
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.


Descriptive Summary

Title: Albert R. Hibbs Papers
Dates: 1884-2009
Bulk dates: 1931-1999
Collection Number: Consult repository.
Creator: Hibbs, Albert R.
Extent: 80 boxes
Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Manuscripts Department
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2203
Fax: (626) 449-5720
Email: manuscripts@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
Language of Material: The records are in English.

Administration Information

Access

Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following http://www.huntington.org/huntingtonlibrary.aspx?id=554 .

Publication Rights

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.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Albert R. Hibbs Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Acquisition Information

The collection was a gift from Victoria Hibbs on 1 March 2010.

Biography

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, n.d.
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.

Arrangement

A detailed container list is available through the Manuscripts Department.

Indexing Terms

Personal Names

Hibbs, Albert R.
Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips) 1918-1988
Walford, Roy L.

Corporate Names

California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology. Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Earthwatch (Organization)
GeoSphere Project
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (U.S.)

United States. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Subjects

Asteriods
Astronautical laboratories
Biosphere 2 (Project)
Comets
Explorer 1 (Artificial satellite)
Explorer 1 (Artificial satellite)--Orbit
Kinetic art
Satellite image maps
Satellites
Solar System
Space Flight
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
Space industrialization
Outer space--Civilian use
Outer space--Exploration
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.)
Voyager Project

Geographic Areas

Chillicothe (Ross County, Ohio)
Pasadena (Calif.)

Genre

Audiocassettes
Audiotapes
Astrophotographs
Awards
Cellulose nitrate film
Clippings
Documents
DVDs
Ephemera
Letters (correspondence)
Lithographs
Negatives (photographic)
Photocopies
Photographic prints
Scrapbooks
Space photographs
VHS


CONTAINER LIST

 

Series 1: Audio Visual Materials 1963, 1965-1968, 1970, 1976, ca. 1977, 1979-1989, 1991-1993, 1996-1997, 2001-2002, n.d.

Physical Description: 13 boxes

Scope and Content Note

Arranged by format, then by subject or producer within, the series contains audio tapes and cassettes, videos, and films that document Hibbs‟ personal life and career at JPL. Walford and Biosphere 2 are a well represented topic in the video tapes subseries. The Voyager Program is well documented in the audio tapes and cassettes, as well as in the videos and films subseries. The series contains oral histories of Hibbs, A.M.O. Smith, Thomas V. Jones, and Dr. Lew Allen. Researchers should be aware that this material was not reviewed for content or quality; as such, the titles may not exactly reflect the contents of the materials.
 

Series 2: Consulting Files 1950, 1952, 1960-1967, 1969-1975, 1980-1981, 1983-2000, 2002-2003, n.d.

Physical Description: 5 boxes

Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically by subject, the series contains brochures, correspondence, research materials, notes, publications, photographs, scripts, and clippings that document Hibbs‟ involvement in television and media projects, the Arms Control Study Group (ACSG) of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), Eyes on Earth and the Geosphere Project, the Urban Mass Transportation Administration‟s (UMTA) Morgantown Area Rapid Transit System (MARTS), and the World Space Foundation‟s (WSF) Shuttle Sail Deployment Experiment (SSDE). The Biosphere 2 subseries is especially rich as Hibbs served on the Project Review Committee and exchanged experiment data and correspondence with crew member Roy L. Walford during its two year operation.
 

Series 3: Jet Propulsion Laboratory 1955, 1957-1997, 1999-2000, 2007-2009, n.d.

Physical Description: 15 boxes

Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically by subject or format, the series contains correspondence, brochures, employee newsletters, oral histories, reports, press releases, scrapbooks, lithographs, clippings and publications related to Hibbs‟ work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). As JPL is managed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), some materials relate specifically to these institutions. The largest subseries contains materials related to the Solar System Exploration Programs and consists primarily of brochures, press releases, photographs, lithographs and clippings meant for public consumption; documentation of the internal technical processes and decisions made during the design and development stages of the programs are lacking. Several subseries pertain to individuals, including Eleanor Helin, astronomer and discoverer of comets and asteroids; Raymond Lyttleton, colleague of Hibbs in comet research and investigator in the mass of Mercury; and William H. Pickering, director of JPL from 1954 to 1976. Correspondence, primarily outgoing, is arranged chronologically and by subject and was likely maintained by an assistant to Hibbs. A small number of separate files for incoming correspondence have been combined with the chronological series to avoid duplication and facilitate research. Topics include the Planetary Grand Tour and formation of a Data Section within the Space Science Division, as well as miscellaneous daily activities, inter-office communications, institution-wide memorandums and correspondence regarding Hibbs‟ numerous speaking and writing engagements.
 

Series 4: Notebooks 1956-1958, 1960-1996, n.d.

Physical Description: 7 boxes

Scope and Content Note

The series consists of notes and is divided into three subseries, Appointment Books, Miscellaneous, and Technical Notes. Within the subseries, materials are arranged by format and chronologically or alphabetically.
The Appointment Books, maintained by Hibbs, contain brief personal and work related schedule notes. The Notebooks and Steno Books constitute the bulk of the Miscellaneous subseries. The Notebooks contain diverse notes on a variety of topics ranging from the space program to finding an apartment. An early Steno book was labeled “phone notes” and the entries throughout the books are detailed, personal, handwritten notes taken during phone conversations, meetings, or conferences. Each entry is typically prefaced with the date, participants, and the subject of discussion. The Steno Books are full of notes on a wide range of topics, including Morgantown, space studies and exploration, microscopes, and the development of medical technologies such as tissue cultures, hearing implants, and neurobiology. Other topics include the space shuttle, solar system exploration and solar sailing, lunar programs, the deep space network, asteroids, “Why Explore Space,” Earth sciences and applications, analytical instrumentation, the space lab and space station, LESS Workshop, EEIS (End to End Information System), global habitization, atmospheric research, materials processing, and oceanography. In addition, JEA (Joint Endeavor Agreement), ESA (European Space Agency), Venus balloons, CRAF (Comet Rendezvous Asteroid Flyby), Explorer proposals, SCORE, TSPD (Technology and Space Program Development), OAST (Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology), and Mars are topics during the 1980s.
Technical notebooks contain notes of a technical, mathematic, and/or scientific nature. Notebooks labeled “Deal 1” and “Deal 2” reference the Explorer 1 and 2 launches attended by Hibbs. Explorer program material is also located in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Series, however it is primarily published and promotional records. Hibbs‟ attempts at designing microcomputers for various functions are also documented in the Technical Notes subseries.
 

Series 5: Personal Files 1884-1885, 1910, 1931-1933, 1940, 1942-1953, 1955, 1957-2001, 2003-2007, n.d.

Physical Description: 9 boxes

Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically by subject, the series contains correspondence, awards, clippings, research materials and notes, presentation transcripts, and ephemera that document Hibbs‟ personal interests and research, family, education, and activities outside the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Of particular interest is his Scientist as Astronaut application. Hibbs and Walford‟s travels to Reno and Las Vegas to play roulette and their subsequent trip aboard the Adonde are documented in the Adonde Trip and Roulette subseries. The Earthwatch subseries contains transcripts of presentations Hibbs gave following his adventures with the organization. Hibbs‟ performances in Theater Arts of California Institute of Technology (TACIT) productions and his work as a member of the Board of Directors for the Volunteer Professionals for Medical Advancement (VPMA) are documented in the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) subseries. The Aging Research and Writings subseries documents his studies in the area and Hibbs‟ creation of metal sculptures is documented in the Kinetic Art subseries. Correspondence is dispersed throughout the series; of particular interest are Hibbs‟ and his sister, Agnes‟, correspondence with their father located in the Family History Materials subseries, and Walford‟s incoming and outgoing correspondence with Hibbs in the Correspondence subseries.
 

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.

Physical Description: 17 boxes

Scope and Content Note

Arranged by subject and alphabetically within, the series contains photographs, negatives, and photographic slides that document the personal life and family of Hibbs, the development of JPL and early satellite programs, and Hibbs‟ involvement in the broadcasting of satellite programs at the Space Flight Operations Facility (SFOF) and as host of the children‟s television program, “Exploring.” The Broadcasting, JPL, and Personal subseries represent the bulk of images. Within the Personal subseries, which contains an extensive collection of early family photographs, arrangement is both chronological and by subject. The chronologically arranged materials originally arrived in two boxes, one primarily negatives and labeled by month of year and the other box of photographs only, grouped in three or six month increments; these have been combined into one chronological sequence with the original description maintained. Scrapbooks and photographic slides are organized by material type and are therefore located at the end of the series; four slide show carousels contain images taken by Hibbs between 1946 and 1951, including his trip aboard Adonde with Roy L. Walford.
 

Series 7: Presentations And Speeches 1958-1962, 1964-1968, 1970, 1974-1975, ca. 1970s, 1977-1990, 1992-1993, 1995-1997, 2000, n.d.

Physical Description: 5 boxes

Scope and Content Note

Arranged chronologically, the series contains correspondence, drafts, outlines, notes, and ephemera that document Hibbs‟ extensive public speaking engagements. Hibbs spoke on a wide range of topics to varied audiences, including professional organizations, educators and students, JPL and Caltech employees, and community groups. Topics include exploring the solar system and Earth, the future of technology and space exploration, JPL projects and history, as well as personal travel.
Hibbs maintained a folder of correspondence with his agent, Bill Cooper Associated, Inc., which is located in this series. In addition to general discussions regarding speeches and presentations, the miscellaneous correspondence includes potential television and film consulting requests.
Hibbs frequently gave slide show presentations, many along with his speeches. Therefore, the drafts are often of the technical direction of the slide programs or the dialog to accompany the images.
 

Series 8: Publications And Writings 1943, 1951-1970, 1972-1975, 1977, 1979, 1982-1983, 1985-1987, ca. 1998, n.d.

Physical Description: 5 boxes

Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically by format and chronologically within, the series contains memoranda, clippings, book reviews, notes, drafts, correspondence, photographs, papers, reports, publications and Hibbs‟ doctoral thesis. Topics include space exploration programs, JPL industry projects and internal progress reports, arms control, global space and military endeavors, science and mathematics education, as well as predictions of an extraterrestrial presence in the universe. Writings were published in domestic and international journals, local and national newspapers, and books.
 

Series 9: Teaching Files 1972-1976, n.d.

Physical Description: 2 boxes

Scope and Content Note

Arranged by course and chronologically within, the series documents Hibbs‟ teaching at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) during the 1970s. Lecture notebooks from Physics 1 and 2 represent the bulk of the materials.
 

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.

Physical Description: 2 boxes

Scope and Content Note

Arranged by material type and by subject within, the series contains award certificates, correspondence, photographs, and publications. The Family Scrapbook is of particular interest as it contains name and date information not provided elsewhere in the collection.