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Guide to the Papers of Clark B. Millikan, 1922-1965
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The working papers, correspondence, publications, and biographical material of Clark B. Millikan form the collection known as the Papers of Clark B. Millikan in the Archives of the California Institute of Technology. Clark Millikan obtained his PhD from Caltech in 1928 and joined the Caltech faculty thereafter, where he became one of the nation's pioneers in aerospace research and development. Millikan served as director of the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT) from 1949 until his death in 1966 and was advisor to various governmental committees during and after World War II. He was the eldest son of Robert A. Millikan.
Clark Blanchard Millikan, the son of Nobel Prize recipient Robert A. Millikan, was born in Chicago in 1903. Born in the same year that the Wright brothers first flew their aircraft at Kitty Hawk, Clark Millikan would later become one of the nation's foremost pioneers in aerospace research and development. Only eight years old when he decided to make his vocation aeronautics, Millikan pursued his dream by first obtaining from Yale an undergraduate degree in science and then from Caltech his PhD in 1928, completing his dissertation on the "Steady Motion of Viscous Fluids" under the guidance of Harry Bateman. Upon completing his degree, Millikan joined the Caltech faculty and began teaching aeronautics within the Division of Civil and Mechanical Engineering. Millikan also continued to pursue research in aeronautics and soon formed productive relationships with several Southern Californian aircraft companies. Integral to this research and these relationships was Millikan's longstanding involvement with the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT) and the Southern California Cooperative Wind Tunnel (SCCWT). With Theodore von Kármán as its first director and with its 200 m.p.h. wind tunnel, GALCIT-established with a generous endowment from Daniel Guggenheim-enabled Millikan and the rest of the laboratory's personnel to make large strides in the advancement of aeronautic engineering. During the Second World War, for example, Millikan helped advance many of the U.S. military's most sophisticated aircraft and ordnance, while, following the war, Millikan was heavily involved in using the wind tunnel to test, analyze, and solve the aerodynamic problems that accompanied the development of high-speed aircraft, and, eventually, guided missiles. Indeed, the wind tunnel serves to exemplify Millikan's ability to link the worlds of industry, academia and the military. While research always remained important for Millikan, his work as an administrator and advisor is also noteworthy. Following the war, he became a key component of Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). From 1949 until his death in 1966, Millikan served as GALCIT's director, while he also served as chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Defense, of the Air Force Ballistics Missiles Committee and of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. In addition, and among many other things, he served as a member of the Naval Advisory Committee, the National Committee of Aeronautics, the Los Angeles Committee on Foreign Relations, and the U.N. Association. Millikan regularly spoke to interested groups. He addressed technical and non-technical audiences, professional groups, women's clubs, or social clubs, like the Sunset Club and others, of which he was a member. Developments in aeronautics paralleled Millikan's own interests. The changing nature of his lectures evolved with advancing technologies: "The Influence of Running Propellers on Airplane Characteristics" of 1939 is characteristic of his pre-War work; "The Dawn of the Supersonic Age" (1949) and "The Guided Missile: Precocious Problem Child of the Military Act" (1951) are characteristic of his post-War interests; and his 1963 "What to do With Space?" is indicative of his interests during the Cold War. Millikan's professional honors include honorary fellowships in the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences (later the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics), and the Royal Aeronautical Society of Great Britain. He also received the United States Presidential Medal of Merit. His professional affiliations included the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Physical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. However, during his lifetime, and despite his distinguished track-record, Millikan was also known for his warm character, approachability and collegial nature.
23 linear feet
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.
The collection is open for research. Researchers must apply in writing for access.