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Guide to the Russell and Sigurd Varian Papers SC0345
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  • Related/Analytical Title
  • Scope and Content
  • Biography
  • Preferred Citation:
  • Provenance
  • Publication Rights
  • Access Restrictions

  • Title: Russell and Sigurd Varian papers
    Identifier/Call Number: SC0345
    Contributing Institution: Dept. of Special Collections & University Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 26.0 Linear feet
    Date (inclusive): 1836-1988
    creator: Varian, Russell Harrison, 1898-1959
    creator: Varian, Sigurd Fergus, 1901-1961

    Related/Analytical Title

    Varian Associates Magazine.

    Scope and Content

    The Varian papers span almost a hundred years of creative and independent thinking, from early manuscripts of poetry by John O. Varian, to the creation and growth of Varian Associates. In addition to original research notebooks and correspondence regarding the klystron, the papers of Russell and Sigurd Varian include materials on numerous other inventions and ideas from Russell's work for Philo Farnsworth and Humble Oil as well as the brothers' years at Stanford and at Varian Associates. Unpublished short stories by Sigurd reveal his sense of humor as well as the adventure and danger of his career as a pilot in Mexico and Central America.
    The Varian Papers also contain correspondence, diaries, and writings of other family members including Dorothy Varian, Agnes Dickson Varian, Aileen Dickson Harrison, and Eric Varian. The letters and diaries of Agnes Dickson Varian pertain to family and community life in Palo Alto and Halcyon, California; Dorothy Varian's papers include her research files used to prepare her biography of Russell and Sigurd Varian as well as correspondence, talks, and other papers pertaining to environmental issues. There is also a series containing photographs documenting the family, Varian Associates, and the history of the klystron.


    Russsell and Sigurd Varian were co-inventors, with William W. Hansen, of the klystron and rhumbatron and co-founders of Varian Associates. Educated at Stanford University, physicist and inventor Russell Varian began his career with Philo Farnsworth on early television technology and with Humble Oil on instrumentation for oil exploration. In 1935, he returned to Stanford. Joined by his brother, Sigurd, a pilot with Pan American Airlines, he began work on microwave technology as a research assistant with Professor William Hansen. The klystron patent brought both financial gain to the University and the attention of federal research agencies, while leading to the formation of Varian Associates, one of California's first Silicon Valley companies.

    Preferred Citation:

    [Identification of item], Russell and Sigurd Varian Papers (SC0345). Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    Gift of Dorothy Varian, 1987, 1988, and 1989.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.

    Access Restrictions


    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Cowell, Henry,, 1819-
    Farnsworth, Philo.
    Ginzton, Edward.
    Hansen, W. W., ((William Webster),), 1909-1949.
    Humble Oil and Refining Company (Incorporated in Tex.).
    Stanford University. Dept. of Physics.
    Varian Associates..
    Varian, Agnes.
    Varian, Eric.
    Varian, John.
    Varian, Russell Harrison,, 1898-1959.
    Varian, Sigurd Fergus,, 1901-1961.
    American literature--20th century.
    Halcyon (Calif.)
    Microelectronics industry--California--Santa Clara County.
    Palo Alto (Calif.)