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Guide to the Papers of Richard Chase Tolman, 1735-1958
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Materials Separated from Collection

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Richard Chase Tolman papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1735-1958
    Collection number: Consult repository
    Creator: Tolman, Richard Chace, 1881-1948
    Extent: 5.75 linear feet
    Repository: California Institute of Technology. Archives.
    Pasadena, California 91125
    Abstract: This collection documents the career of Richard Chace Tolman, who served on the faculties of the Universities of Michigan, Cincinnati, California (Berkeley) and Illinois. Collection includes family photographs, personal and biographical materials including his Ph. D. Thesis, sporadic and limited correspondence, lecture notes, speeches, reprints, photocopies of unclassified correspondence and documents relating to the U. S. Atomic Energy commission Tolman Committee on Declassification. The collection covers a broad range of topics from his work in physical chemistry and mathematical physics.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access

    The collection is open for research. Researchers must apply in writing for access.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright may not have been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item, box and file number], Papers of Richard Chase Tolman. Archives, California Institute of Technology.

    Acquisition Information

    Collection includes family photographs, personal and biographical materials including his Ph. D. Thesis, sporadic and limited correspondence, lecture notes, speeches, reprints, photocopies of unclassified correspondence and documents relating to the U. S. Atomic Energy commission Tolman Committee on Declassification. Also there is one box of materials relating to his wife, Ruth Tolman who was a psychologist. The collection covers a braod range of topics from his work in physical chemistry and mathematical physics.

    Biography

    Richard Chace Tolman was born March 4, 1881 in West Newton, Massachusetts. He attended MIT, earning his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1903. He spent the next year in Berlin, then returned to complete his graduate work with a PhD at MIT in 1910. From that time until World War I he served on the faculties of the Universities of Michigan, Cincinnati, California (Berkeley) and Illinois. During the war Tolman began what would be a distinguished career as a scientific advisor and administrator for the US government. His first assignment was with the Chemical Warfare Service, and later (1919-1922) as associate director and then director of the Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory, whose purpose was to continue the government's research program on the nitrogen products used in explosives and fertilizers. In 1922, Tolman accepted a position at the California Institute of Technology, where he would remain for the rest of his academic career. He served as professor of physical chemistry and mathematical physics, as well as holding the position of dean of the graduate school.
    Tolman became interested in relativity theory early in his career and published several key papers. His scientific work between the wars ranged over statistical mechanics, relativistic thermodynamics and cosmology. His classic book, The Principles of Statistical Mechanics, was published in 1938. Between 1940 and 1946 Tolman had major responsibilities in the joint efforts of science, industry and the military to achieve victory in the Second World War. He served as vice chairman of the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC), with special cognizance for armor and ordnance, including the development of the proximity fuse and rockets. He served as scientific advisor to General Leslie R. Groves on the Manhattan Project, as US advisor to the wartime Combined Policy Committee, and immediately after the war as chief technical advisor to the US delegation to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission. At the time of his death in September 1948 he was chairman the Declassification Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission.
    Tolman earned the US Medal for Merit and the rank of honorary officer of the Order of the British Empire. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1923.
    Richard Tolman was married to Ruth Sherman Tolman, a psychologist.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Collection includes family photographs, personal and biographical materials including his Ph. D. Thesis, sporadic and limited correspondence, lecture notes, speeches, reprints, photocopies of unclassified correspondence and documents relating to the U. S. Atomic Energy commission Tolman Committee on Declassification. Also there is one box of materials relating to his wife, Ruth Tolman who was a psychologist. The collection covers a braod range of topics from his work in physical chemistry and mathematical physics.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection.
    Tolman, Ruth S.
    California Institute of Technology
    U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
    Chemistry, Physical and theoretical
    Mathematical physics
    Lecture notes
    Correspondence
    Photographs
    Reprints
    Speeches
    Physicists

    Materials Separated from Collection

    The following books were removed from the Tolman collection and added to the archive book collection:
    Graham Laing, Towards Technology [inscribed by author]
    Vannevar Bush, Modern Arms and Free Men [inscribed by author]
    John Burchard, MIT in World War II QED [inscribed by author]
    Walter Goodnow Everett, Moral Values [inscribed by author]
    Lillie Buffum Chace Wyman, Elizabeth Buffum Chace and Her Environment, 2 vols.