Guide to the Arnold Orville Beckman Papers

Gwen Torges and Caltech Archives Staff
Edited by Penelope Neder-Muro, 2020
California Institute of Technology Archives and Special Collections
1200 East California Blvd.
MC B215-74
Pasadena, California 91125

Contributing Institution: California Institute of Technology Archives and Special Collections
Title: Arnold Orville Beckman Papers
Creator: Beckman, Arnold O. (Chemist, Inventor, Philanthropist)
Identifier/Call Number: 10103-MS
Physical Description: 10 linear feet (12 archival boxes, 3 storage cartons, and oversize material)
Date (inclusive): 1919-1989
Abstract: The Arnold Beckman materials are primarily printed matter relating to Beckman's philanthropy, including newspaper clippings, photos, albums and scrapbooks. There are also two archival boxes of biographical newspaper clippings from the 1950s through 1989. Although there is only a small amount of correspondence (less than one archival box), many of the correspondents are noteworthy figures, including several politicians. The three storage cartons contain photo albums and scrapbooks. The collection also contains a large number of photographs, several plaques and honorary certificates, two reel-to-reel audio tapes, two audio cassettes and one Lyndon Johnson pen.
Language of Material: English .

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. Researchers must apply for access in writing and by creating an Aeon  account. Contact the archives for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

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 Caltech Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and, unless explicitly stated otherwise, is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The majority of the collection was donated to the Caltech Archives by Arnold Beckman, and came from his home files. Boxes 9 and 10 are miscellaneous files that came from his Beckman Foundation office in Irvine, California, and were transferred to the Caltech Archives by Beckman's assistant.

Biographical / Historical

Arnold Orville Beckman (1900-2004) was an American investor, inventor, chemist, and philanthropist. He was the founder of Beckman Instruments, Inc.; Caltech Assistant Professor from 1929 to 1940 and a Caltech Trustee from 1953 to the end of his life.
For additional information, the Beckman oral history interview conducted by Mary Terrall can be found at Caltech Archives Oral Histories .

Scope and Contents

The Arnold O. Beckman papers primarily relate to Beckman's philanthropy, including newspaper clippings, photos, scrapbooks, honorary plaques and certificates, and correspondence (circa 1954-1989).


Series 1: Biographical Information, contains newspaper clippings, articles and printed material about Beckman's life.
Series 2: Philantropic Gifts, contains the documentation of the Beckmans' many donations and endowments.
Series 3: General Correspondence, includes communications with individuals and it is arranged in alphabetical order. Major individual correspondents represented in Series 3 include United States President Richard Nixon, Caltech presidents Lee DuBridge, Harold Brown and Marvin Golderberger, and Princess Margaret.
Series 4: Miscellaneous Printed Material, contains few printed materials and transcripts.
Series 5: Photographs, contains family photos, formal portraits and photos of Beckman and his wife Mabel taken at events and with personalities.
Series 6: Miscellaneous Items and Tapes, contains memorabilia, recordings and mementos.
Series 7: Miscellaneous Documents, includes, speeches, interviews and research notebooks.
Series 8: Awards, Honors, contains awards, certificates and medals.
Series 9: Scrapbooks, Photo Albums, includes both family album and album of events attended by Beckman.

Related Materials

The Science History Institute (formerly Chemical Heritage Foundation) has an extensive collection of Arnold Beckman's personal papers and the records of the scientific and medical instrument manufacturer, Beckman Coulter, Incorporated. The Digitized portions can be accessed here.  
To search the additional holdings of the Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Library of Chemical History, see the online catalog.  

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Manuscript Collection
Beckman Instruments, Inc


Series I: Biographical Information

box 1, folder 1

Miscellaneous printed material 1950s

box 1, folder 2

Newspaper clippings 1960s

box 1, folder 3

Articles from Caltech publications 1960s

box 1, folder 4

Newsletter, magazine articles 1960s

box 1, folder 5

Miscellaneous printed materials 1960s

box 1, folder 6

Newspaper clippings 1970s

box 1, folder 7

Articles from campus publications 1970s

box 1, folder 8

Newsletter, magazine articles 1970s

box 1, folder 9

Miscellaneous printed materials 1970s

box 2, folder 1

Newspaper clippings 1980s

box 2, folder 2

Articles from Caltech publications 1980s

box 2, folder 3-7

Newsletter, magazine articles 1980s

box 2, folder 8

Miscellaneous printed materials 1980s

box 2, folder 9

Newspaper clippings, printed materials 1980s, undated


Series II: Philanthropic Gifts

box 3, folder 1-2

Beckman Auditorium at Caltech

box 3, folder 3

Mabel and Arnold Beckman Laboratories of Behavioral Biology at Caltech

box 3, folder 4

Beckman Institute at Caltech

box 3, folder 5

Arnold and Mabel Beckman Laboratory of Chemical Synthesis at Caltech

box 4, folder 1-2

Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies of Science and Engineering

box 4, folder 3-4

Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois

box 4, folder 5

Annual reports of the Arnold O.Beckman Research Endowment

box 5, folder 1

Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic at University of California, Irvine

box 5, folder 2

Haag Hospital Cancer Center gift

box 5, folder 3

Beckman Vision Center at University of California, San Francisco

box 5, folder 4

Arnold and Mabel Beckman Management Center at Pepperdine University

box 5, folder 5

Harvey Mudd College gift

box 5, folder 6

Beckman Research Institute at the City of Hope

box 5, folder 7

Irvine Medical Center gifts

box 5, folder 8

Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine at Stanford University

box 5, folder 9

University of California, Irvine gifts

box 5, folder 10

Stanford University gifts

box 5, folder 11

Rockefeller University gifts

box 5, folder 12

Beckman Center at Stanford University

box 5, folder 13

Articles on Arnold Beckman as philanthropist

box 5, folder 14

List of donations from Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation


Series III: General Correspondence

box 6, folder 1

Beckman Instruments correspondence 1981 October 7 1982 April 1987 April 16

box 6, folder 2

Caltech correspondence 1965-1986

Scope and Contents

Correspondents: Avery, Stanton (to Harold Brown), 1972 June 5; Brown, Harold, 1972 June 8, 1976 July 30; Caltech Associates invitation, 1976 May 3; DuBridge, Lee A., 1967 May 2; Goldberger, Marvin, 1986 May 28; Gray, Harry, 1984 March 30; Hurwitz, Theodore, 1986 January 14; Private Secretary to Princess Margaret, 1965 November 15; Sharp, Robert P., 1967 April 27
box 6, folder 3

Deukmejian, George correspondence 1985 October 3

box 6, folder 4

Hoover, J. Edgar correspondence 1966 May 24

box 6, folder 5

Jet Propulsion Laboratory correspondence 1982 March 1

Scope and Contents

Correspondent: Shlichta, Paul,
box 6, folder 6

Mennonite Hospital correspondence 1983 undated

Scope and Contents

Correspondents: Xwitkowski, Madlyn, undated; Rouger, Antoine, undated; Schmucker, Leon, 1983 March 3
box 6, folder 7

Mills College correspondence 1966 June 9

Scope and Contents

Correspondent: Rothwell, C. Easton
box 6, folder 8

Nestande, Bruce correspondence 1982 March 16

box 6, folder 9

Nixon, Richard correspondence 1969 June 23, November 5, 1972 June 13

box 6, folder 10

Pepperdine University correspondence 1971 May 19 1983 August 15 1989 August 14

box 6, folder 11

Reagan, Ronald correspondence 1984 January 29 1984 July 16 1985 October 31

box 6, folder 12

Rockefeller, Nelson correspondence 1975 April 28

box 6, folder 13

Rockefeller University correspondence 1987 July 31 1987 September 25

box 6, folder 14

Scottish Council of Development and Industry correspondence 1967 May-June undated

box 6, folder 15

Stanford University correspondence 1985 May 6

Scope and Contents

Correspondent: Kennedy, Donald
box 6, folder 16

Stravinsky, Igor correspondence 1966 November 8 1966 November 10

box 6, folder 17

University of California, Riverside correspondence 1987 May 28

box 6, folder 18

University of Illinois correspondence 1982 June 8 1983 March 7 1989 May 8-10

box 6, folder 19

Miscellaneous correspondence 1960-1989


Series IV: Miscellaneous Printed Material

box 6, folder 20

Resolution from Chapman College

box 6, folder 21

Transcript of welcome speech at Caltech Trustees meeting 1974

box 6, folder 22

Cartoon and note from Lee DuBridge

box 6, folder 23

Miscellaneous printed materials from Beckman Instruments


Series V: Photographs

box 7, folder 1

The early years and early family photos

box 7, folder 2

Miscellaneous family photos in the later years

box 7, folder 3

Beckman with political figures and other well-knowns

box 7, folder 4

Beckman with Princess Margaret

box 7, folder 5

Arnold and Mabel

box 7, folder 6

Mabel Beckman

box 7, folder 7

Dinners, ceremonies, awards, parties, dedications

box 7, folder 8

Beckman with Caltech presidents

box 7, folder 9


box 7, folder 10

Beckman with groups

box 7, folder 11


box 7, folder 12


box 7, folder 13


box 7, folder 14-15

Snapshots (working title)

box 7, folder 16


box 7, folder 17



Series VI: Miscellaneous Items and Tapes 6

box 8

Box 8 Contents


Memorabilia from University of Illinois, 1919-1921; Recording of "Beautiful Beckman," January 13, 1975, Beckman Auditorium (2 cassette copies, 1 reel to reel copy), and musical scores; Reel to reel recording of Beckman Auditorium groundbreaking ceremony, made January 1962; Pen used by Lyndon Johnson; Framed photo of Beckman and Ronald Reagan; Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung (2 copies); Memento from dedication of the Beckman Center; Apollo 11 memorabilia; Yacht log; Nautical slide rule; Beckman's camp spoon

Series VII: Speeches, Interviews, and Beckman Instruments

box 9, folder 1-4

Beckman's speeches

box 9, folder 5

Articles on Beckman by Arnold Thackray and Jeffrey Sturchio

box 9, folder 6

Transcript of interview conducted by Jeffrey Sturchio and Arnold Thackray 1985 July 23

box 9, folder 7

Transcript of interview conducted by Jeffrey Sturchio and Arnold Thackray 1985 April 23

box 9, folder 8

Various articles about Beckman

box 9, folder 9

American Chemical Society

Scope and Contents

Talks, skits
box 9, folder 10

A Fourteen Weeks Course in Chemistry

Scope and Contents

Photocopy of book
box 9, folder 11


box 10, folder 1-2

Beckman's research notebooks

box 10, folder 3

"The Photosensitized and Photochemical Decomposition of Hydrazine"

Scope and Contents

Reprint of article written by Joseph C. Elgin and Hugh S.Taylor
box 10, folder 4

"A Tribute to Dr. Arnold Beckman"

Scope and Contents

By Fred L. Hartley
box 10, folder 5

Beckman laboratory journal 1934-1936

box 10, folder 6

Beckman Instruments: Acidmeter

box 10, folder 7

Beckman Instruments: Cartoons 1954-1958

box 10, folder 8

Beckman Instruments: Early photographs

box 10, folder 9

Golden Past. Golden Future: The First Fifty Years of Beckman Instruments. Inc.

Scope and Contents

By Harrison Stephens
box 10, folder 10

The Beckman Symposium on Biomedical Instrumentation

Scope and Contents

Edited by Carol L. Moberg
box 10, folder 11

Correspondence re: Glassblowing

box 10, folder 12

Beckman's Professorship of Chemistry

box 10, folder 13

Miscellaneous printed materials


Series VIII: Awards and Honors

box 11

Box 11 Contents 1953-1994


General Excellence Award, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, 1960; Fifty Year Illini certificate, from University of Illinois; The Vermilye Medal,The Benjamin Franklin National Award for Exemplary Leadership in Business and Industry, 1987; Honorary Doctor·of Science, from Whittier College, 1971; National Medal of Technology, 1988; Charles Lathrop Parsons Award, presented by the American Chemical Society, 1989; YMCA Humanitarian of the Year Award, 1985; Republican Senatorial Inner Circle Flag, 1984; Certificate establishing the Mabel Beckman Prize, from Caltech, 1986; Certificate of thanks to Beckman from the Mills College Board of Trustees, 1964; Certificate of appreciation from Republican Central Committee, 1966; Certificate of membership to the Newcomen Society, 1966; Certificate to recognize service from the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, 1983; Certificate of appreciation from the American Heart Association (undated); Certificate of Life Membership of the Associates of Caltech, 1953; Certificate of appreciation from the Orange County Republican Central Committee, 1982; Certificate of honor from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
The following awards and certificates are loose in the box: Certificate recognizing loyal support from the Delta Upsilon Fraternity of the University of Illinois (undated); Proclamation that Beckman is "Our Hero of the Last Half Century," from the members of the University of Illinois Foundation, 1985; Certificate of dedication for the Arnold O. and Mabel M. Beckman Institute for Advancement of Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, 1985; Honorary Doctor of Science from Whittier College, 1971; Honorary Doctor of Science from Scripps Research Institute, 1994; Orange Coast College Outstanding Citizen Award, 1972; Certificate announcing that a Trustee Professorship has been established in honor of Beckman.
box 12

Box 12 Contents 1969-1988


Certificate presenting Beckman with the Wave of Excellence from Pepperdine University, 1988; Certificate of Recognition from the President's Associates at Chapman College (undated); Certificate of Appreciation from the Board of Directors of Continental Airlines, Inc., 1971; Certificate of Recognition from the National Society of Fundraising Executives, 1984; Community Service Award from the Disneyland Management Committee, 1969; Delta Upsilon Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, August 16, 1987

Series IX: Scrapbooks and Photo Albums

box 13

Box 13 Contents 1977-1988

Scope and Contents

The following photo albums and scrapbooks are loose in the box: "An American Celebration," photo album, Chapman College Founder's Day Celebration; A pictorial documentation of the Arnold O.and Mabel M. Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, photo album, 1985-1987; Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope,Summary Report of Activities, presented to the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation notebook, 1983-1986; Beckman Institute, Caltech, "The First Pour," photo album, September-December, 1988; Beckman Institute, Caltech, October 1987; Beckman Institute, Caltech, "Groundbreaking Ceremony," photo album, April 11, 1988; Commencement Address, Pepperdine University, photo album, 1977; Photograph of "Arcus" crystal sculpture, given to Beckman by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, October 17, 1986; Beckman Laboratories of Behavioral Biology; Arnold Beckman's 80th Birthday Party; Beckman Auditorium, photo and drawing.
box 14

Box 14 Contents 1972 1988 undated

Scope and Contents

The following photo albums and scrapbooks are loose in the box: "Building the Beckman Center," scrapbook, March 1988; Beckman Institute at University of Illinois, photo album, undated; Family photo album, later years; Family photo album, early and middle years; "Comments and Scenes from the Behavioral Biology·Building Ceremony," Caltech, notebook, May 8, 1972; Photo album with miscellaneous photos of Beckman and Beckman buildings.
box 15

Box 15 Contents 1956 1979 1985 undated

Scope and Contents

The following photo albums and scrapbooks are loose in the box: The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies of Science and Engineering, scrapbook; "A memoir of your visit to Tokyo," scrapbook of the reception held by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Fuji Bank, Ltd., 1956; "The Arnold O. Beckman Professorship of Chemistry," scrapbook, May 1980; "A photographic record of luncheon at the Lou Henry Hoover House, Stanford University, on May 9, 1985; Collection of miscellaneous articles about Beckman's "Pepperdine University Private Enterprise Award," scrapbook, September 25, 1979.
box Shelf

Oversize 1

Scope and Contents

Beckman family photo album
box Shelf

Oversize 2

Scope and Contents

Illini Achievement Award, from University of Illinois Alumni Association, June 18, 1960; Walnut Elephant, informational scrapbook, undated; Award of commendation from the Orange County Board of Supervisors, includes negative, April 2, 1985; National Academy of Engineering Award for Achievement and Distinguished Service, October 1, 1986; Beckman Auditorium photo album/scrapbook.