Description of the Collection
Call Number: SC0426
Hofstadter, Robert, 1915-1990
Title: Robert Hofstadter papers
83 Linear feet (64 boxes)
Summary: This collection contains the papers of former Stanford professor and Nobel Prize winning physicist Robert Hofstadter. Included
are lab notebooks and research data; lecture notes and teaching materials; writings, drafts, and reprints; grant proposals;
incoming and outgoing correspondence; travel and conference papers; legal papers; biographical and personal materials;clippings;
photographs; and a small amount of audiovisual material. The papers cover a wide swath of Hofstadter's career, including his
student and postgraduate work at Princeton University; wartime positions at The United States National Bureau of Standards
and Norden Laboratory; Stanford research including electron scattering and coronary angiography; and his collaboration with
NASA personnel on the Energetic Gamma-Ray Experiment Telescope (EGRET).
Language(s): The materials are in English.
Department of Special Collections and University Archives
557 Escondido Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6064
Phone: (650) 725-1022
The papers were a gift of the family of Robert Hofstadter, 1992, 1995, 2008, and 2011.
Information about Access
Letters of recommendation in Accession 1995-014 and Accession 2008-003 are restricted. Otherwise the collection is open for
research. The collection is stored off site; materials must be requested at least 48 hours in advance of intended use.
Ownership & Copyright
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the
Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California 94304-6064. Consent
is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission
from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner, heir(s) or assigns. See: http://library.stanford.edu/depts/spc/publicationserv/permissions.html.
Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research
and educational purposes.
[Identification of item], Robert Hofstadter Papers (SC0426). Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford
University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.
Robert (Rubvin) Hofstadter was born in New York City, on February 5, 1915. He was one of four children of Polish immigrants,
Louis and Henrietta (Koenigsberg) Hofstadter. Hofstadter was educated in New York City and attended the City College of New
York (CCNY) receiving his B.S. degree magna cum laude.
Hofstadter attended graduate school at Princeton University and received both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in physics in 1938 His
Ph.D. work was concerned with infrared spectra of simple organic molecules, and in particular, with the structure of the hydrogen
bond. From 1938-1939, he held a Procter Fellowship at Princeton for postdoctoral work, during which he began a study of photoconductivity
in willemite crystals. In 1939, Hofstadter received the Harrison Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, where he helped
to construct a large Van de Graaff machine for nuclear research.
During World War II Hofstadter worked at the National Bureau of Standards and the Norden Laboratory Corporation. After the
war, he returned to Princeton as Assistant Professor of Physics, where he researched crystal conduction counters, the Compton
effect, and scintillation counters.
In 1950, with the encouragement of colleagues Leonard Schiff and Felix Bloch, Hofstadter left Princeton to become Associate
Professor of Physics at Stanford University, where he began research on electron scattering with a linear accelerator. While
building equipment for the electron-scattering experiments, he continued working on scintillation counters and developed new
detectors for neutrons and X-rays. Other research conducted during Hofstadter’s early years at Stanford concerned cosmic rays
and with cascade showers generated by high-speed electrons.
Hofstadter was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1958 and was named California Scientist of the Year in 1959.
In 1961, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics based on his electron scattering studies of the nucleon.
From 1967-1974, Hofstadter directed the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Stanford. He went on to collaborate with colleagues
at Stanford’s School of Medicine in the development of synchrotron radiation and K-edge subtraction for coronary angiography
(a diagnostic technique which uses radioactive substances in place of catheters to test heart function). In his later years
he worked with NASA physicists and technicians to design the Energetic Gamma-Ray Experimental Telescope (EGRET), which was
one of four instruments equipped for the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory Satellite.
Hofstadter passed away in November of 1990, just prior to EGRET’s launch in 1991. His contributions were commemorated with
a plaque that was attached to the observatory.
Hofstadter married Nancy Givan of Baltimore, Maryland in 1942. They were the parents of one son, Douglas, and two daughters,
Laura and Molly.
Description of the Collection
This collection contains the papers of former Stanford professor and Nobel Prize winning physicist Robert Hofstadter. Included
are lab notebooks and research data; and related files; lecture notes and teaching materials; writings, drafts, and reprints;
grant proposals; incoming and outgoing correspondence; travel and conference papers; legal papers; biographical and personal
materials; clippings; photographs; and a small amount of audiovisual material. The papers cover a wide swath of Hofstadter's
career, including his student and postgraduate work at Princeton University; wartime positions at The United States National
Bureau of Standards and Norden Laboratory; Stanford research including electron scattering and coronary angiography; and his
collaboration with NASA personnel on the Energetic Gamma-Ray Experiment Telescope. Of particular interest are materials on
the development of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), later renamed the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory,
as well as correspondence on the relationship between SLAC and the Stanford University Department of Phyiscs.
The papers are arranged in four accessions, mirroring how the collection was received. One additional catagory, Oversized
Items, was created during processing and consists of large items removed from elsewhere in the collection. Whenever possible,
the contents of the collection were left in the order in which they were received.
The 2005, 2008, and 2011 accessions each contain several subcategories, which are listed alphabetically within each accession.
These categories, most of which repeat across accessions, include awards and honors; biographical materials; clippings; correspondence,
KMS Fusion; lecture notes and teaching materials; research; photographs; publications and writings; speeches and presentations;
and travel and conferences. The 2008 accession also includes a subcategory of Hofstadter's research files and writings on
colleague Felix Bloch.
Robert Hofstadter's son, Douglas, provided numerous notes on the contents of folders within the collection. These notes were
kept with the folders to which they pertain and are noted in the collection inventory.
Bloch, Felix, 1905-
European Organization for Nuclear Research.
Ginzton, Edward L. (Edward Leonard), 1915-
Goddard Space Flight Center.
Hansen, W. W. (William Webster), 1909-1949
Harshaw Chemical Company.
Hofstadter, Douglas R., 1945-
Hofstadter, Robert, 1915-1990
Kaplan, Henry S., 1918-1984
KMS Fusion, Inc..
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Norden Laboratory Corporation.
Panofsky, Wolfgang K.H. (Wolfgang Kurt Hermann), 1919-2007
Schawlow, Arthur L., 1921-1999
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
Stanford University. Department of Physics. Faculty.
Stanford University. W.W. Hansen Laboratories of Physics. High Energy Physics Laboratory.
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
United States. National Bureau of Standards.
Form factor (Nuclear physics)
Nobel Prize winners
Particles (Nuclear physics)
Physics--Study and teaching.