Overview of the Collection
Scope and Content
Overview of the Collection
Title: Albert R. Hibbs Papers
Dates (inclusive): 1884-2009
Bulk dates: 1931-1999
Collection Number: mssHibbs papers
Creator: Hibbs, Albert R.
Extent: 80 boxes.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Abstract: This collection contains the papers of Albert R. Hibbs
(1924-2003), a manager and scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The
collection documents his personal life and career at 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.
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services
Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to
quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such
activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is
one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.
[Identification of item]. Albert R. Hibbs Papers, The Huntington Library, San
Gift of Victoria Hibbs, March 1, 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
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
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
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
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
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
This collection documents the personal life and
career of Albert R. Hibbs (1924-2003) 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
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
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 Biospheres Ventures subseries of the Consulting
series, as well as in the Audio Visual Materials Series. Correspondence is also
dispersed throughout the series.
AAAS: American Association for the Advancement of Science
ABMA: Army Ballistic Missile Agency
ACDA: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (United States)
ACSG: Arms Control Study Group
AIA: Aircraft Industries Association
AIAA: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
ARC: Associated Retirees of Caltech/JPL
CAB: Civil Aeronautics Board
COSPAR: Committee on Space Research (ICSU)
CRAF: Comet Rendezvous Asteroid Flyby
CSIOP: Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
DSN: Deep Space Network
DTMF: Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency
ESA: European Space Agency
FWHA: Federal Highway Administration
GALCIT: Graduate Aerospace Laboratories at the California Institute of Technology
HAC: Hughes Aircraft
ICSU: International Council of Scientific Unions
IDRC: Industrial Development Research Council, Inc.
IEEE: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
IGY: International Geophysical Year
IRAS: Infra-Red Astronomical Satellite
JBIS: Journal of the British Interplanetary Society
JEA: Joint Endeavor Agreement
JPL: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
LDASE: Large Deployable Antenna Shuttle Experiment
MARTS: Morgantown Area Rapid Transit System (UMTA)
MWOA: Mount Wilson Observatory Association
NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NGC: New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars
NSTA: National Science Teachers Association
OAST: Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology (NASA)
ODAP: Orbital Data Acquisition Program (USAF)
OSF: Office of Space Flight (NASA)
PCC: Pasadena City College
SAR: Synthetic Aperture Radar
SEP: Solar Electric Propulsion
SFOF Space Flight Operations Facility (JPL)
SPFPAD: Spacecraft Performance and Flight Path Analysis Directorate
SSDE: Shuttle Sail Deployment Experiment
SSPS: Space Solar Power System
STM: Scanning Tunneling Microscopy
STS: Space Transportation System
SURF: Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (Caltech/JPL)
TIROS: Television Infrared Observational Satellite
TACIT: Theater Arts at California Institute of Technology
TSPD: Technology and Space Program Development
UCLA: University of California-Los Angeles
UMTA: Urban Mass Transportation Administration
USAF: United States Air Force
USC: University of Southern California
USNR: United States Naval Reserve VOIR: Venus Orbiting Imaging Radar
VPMA: Volunteer Professionals for Medical Advancement (Caltech)
WAC: Without Attitude Control
WESCON: Western Electronic Show and Convention
WSF: World Space Foundation
Arranged in 10 series:
- Series 1: Audio Visual Materials (13 boxes, Boxes 1-13)
- Series 2: Consulting Files (5 boxes, Boxes 14-18)
- Series 3: Jet Propulsion Laboratory (15 boxes, Boxes 19-33)
- Series 4: Notebooks (7 boxes, Boxes 34-39)
- Series 5: Personal Files (9 boxes, Boxes 41-49)
- Series 6: Photographs And Negatives (17 boxes, 50-66)
- Series 7: Presentations And Speeches (5 boxes, Boxes 67-71)
- Series 8: Publications And Writings (5 boxes, Boxes 72-76)
- Series 9: Teaching Files (2 boxes, Boxes 77-78)
- Series 10: Oversize (2 boxes, Boxes 79-80)
Hibbs, Albert R. --
Feynman, Richard P.
(Richard Phillips), 1918-1988.
California Institute of
of Technology. Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy.
United States. Arms
Control and Disarmament Agency.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Biosphere 2 (Project)
Explorer 1 (Artificial
Explorer 1 (Artificial satellite) --
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
Space flight to Saturn.
Space flight to Venus.
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. Chillicothe (Ross
Cellulose nitrate film.