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Guide to the Public Affairs Office Collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Materials
  • Acquisition Information
  • Administrative History
  • Sources Consulted:
  • Indexing Terms
  • Scope and Content
  • System of Arrangement

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Public Affairs Office Collection
    Date (inclusive): 1940-2020
    Collection Number: AFS1380
    Creator: Ames Research Center
    Extent: Number of containers: 58

    Volume: 23.5 cubic feet 15,892 digital items
    Repository: Ames Research Center, Ames History Archives
    Moffett Field, California 94035
    Abstract: The Public Affairs Office Collection in the NASA Ames History Archives comprises news and communications materials, including press releases, circulars, audio-visual media, subject files, and photographs, that were produced and accumulated by Public Affairs Office staff. These records were used to disseminate information about the Center's activities to the public as mandated by the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act.
    Language: English

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.


    Accruals of media, Ames Centerwide announcements, and digital news releases were transferred by Keith Venter, Rick Chen, and Astrid Albaugh, and added to the collection (Acquisitions 006-2010, 005-2018, 007-2018, respectively). An accrual of digital news releases was added to the collection in May 2020 (007-2020).

    Publication Rights

    Copyright does not apply to United States government records. For non-government material, researcher must contact the original creator.

    Preferred Citation

    NASA Ames History Archives, NASA Ames Research Center. Moffett Field, California. AFS1380, Public Affairs Office Collection, [Container number]: [Folder number]. [Identification of item]. [Date, if available].

    Abbreviated Citation

    NASA ARC. AFS1380, [Container number]: [Folder number]. [Identification of item]. [Date, if available].

    Related Materials

    Removed or Separated Material

    Twelve books have been removed and placed in the NASA Ames History Archives Reference Collection (AFS1070.8A).

    • Anderson, Frank W., Jr. Orders of magnitude: A history of NACA and NASA, 1915-1976. Washington, D.C.: NASA SP-4403, 1976.
    • Benedict, Howard. Malone, Myrtle D. Ed. NASA: The journey continues. Houston: Pioneer Publications, 1989.
    • Carle, Glenn C., Deborah E. Schwartz, and Judith L. Huntington, eds. Exobiology in solar system exploration. Washington, D.C.: NASA SP 512, 1988.
    • Cooper, Henry S. F., Jr. Before lift-off: The making of a space shuttle crew. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987.
    • Marshall Space Flight Center. Science in orbit: The shuttle & Spacelab experience: 1981-1986. Washington, D.C.: NASA NP-119, 1988.
    • Muenger, Elizabeth A. Searching the horizon: A history of Ames Research Center, 1940-1976. Washington, D.C.: NASA SP-4204, 1985.
    • NASA Ames Research Center. The vision of Ames Research Center. Moffett Field, CA: NASA Ames Research Center, 1988.
    • RMS Associates. Information resources management: A bibliography with indexes, 1984-1989. Washington, D.C.: NASA SP-7079, 1990.
    • Rosholt, Robert L. An administrative history of NASA, 1958-1963. Washington, D.C.: NASA SP-4101, 1966.
    • Truly, Richard M. Space shuttle: The journey continues. Washington, D.C.: NASA NP-117.
    • U.S. Senate. Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, as amended, and related legislation. 95th Cong., 2nd sess., 1978.
    • Zuber, Maria, Odette James, Glenn MacPherson, and Jeff Plescia. Planetary geosciences--1988. Washington, D.C.: NASA SP-498, 1989.

    Related Material

    NASA Ames Research Center History Archives Collections

    • AFS1070.8A: Archives Reference Collection
    • AFS1380-69A: Ames Astrogram Collection

    NASA Ames Research Center Public Affairs Office

    National Archives and Records Administration

    • Records of the Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, Record Group 255.4.1. Records Relating to Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, Record Group 255. National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD. (Contains news releases, news clipping files, photographs, Don C. Wiley reports, and Daniel S. Wentz II "Major Information Activities" reports, dating from the 1930s to the 1950s.) https://history.arc.nasa.gov/finding_aids_nara.htm 

    NASA Headquarters

    • NASA Headquarters Historical Reference Collection. NASA Headquarters History Office, Washington, DC. (Contains digitized copies of all press releases issued by NASA Ames Research Center from 1959 through 1991.) https://historydms.hq.nasa.gov/ 

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were transferred to the History Archives by the NASA Ames Technical Library in June of 2004, Ola Cook of the Public Affairs Office in July and August of 2004, and Astrid Terlep of the Public Affairs Office in December of 2004 (Acquisitions 006-2004, 009-2004, 019-2004, respectively).

    Administrative History

    The public affairs function at NASA Ames has operated under a variety of names. The Public Affairs Office (PAO, Code DI, Code DX), or Public Information Office (Code DXI), Media Relations Office (Code DXI), Media Services Office (Code DXI), External Affairs Office (Code DI), or Communication Branch (Code DXC), has always been part of the Office of the Director (Code D, Code ODA) of the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, CA.
    Operating from 1958 through the present (2009) on behalf of the NASA Ames Research Center, the main task of the Public Affairs Office has been to provide the public with information about the activities of the Center. This task is mandated in the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act, which states that NASA, "in order to carry out the purpose of this Act, shall . . . provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof" (42 US Code 2473). In its own words, the Public Affairs Office "manages the public information creation and dissemination process to communicate and promote the vision, missions, capabilities and accomplishments of NASA and Ames" (NASA Ames Research Center Public Affairs Office. http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/publicaffairs.html accessed February 12, 2008). The Public Affairs Office at NASA Ames has always coordinated its activities closely with the Public Affairs Office at NASA Headquarters, especially in terms of style guides and administrative procedures.
    A major contribution of the Public Affairs Office has been its production and distribution of written and visual materials describing the people, facilities and research activities at Ames, such as reports and news releases with corresponding photographs, and the Center's internal newsletter, the Ames Astrogram. For nearly 50 years, the office has chronicled the Center's support of NASA missions and its significant contributions to such fields as aeronautics, planetary science, life science, astrobiology, computational fluid dynamics, robotics, and nanotechnology.
    The origin of a public relations function at Ames predates its inclusion in NASA, beginning under a precursor organization known as the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory (AAL), which was established in 1939 as part of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). According to Ames historian Edwin P. Hartman, early information dissemination efforts in AAL were limited to providing accurate research information, mainly in the form of Technical Notes, Technical Reports, and Technical Memoranda, to a select field of interested parties such as researchers, universities, and aircraft companies. Apparently, NACA questioned the ethicality of pursuing public relations efforts, and avoided this type of activity until a few years after World War II. Then, facing greater public scrutiny and more competition for funding, it became concerned with its public image and hired Aeronautical Information Officers for each of its laboratories. In March 1949, Don Wiley was appointed to be the first Aeronautical Information Officer for AAL, with Daniel S. Wentz II stepping in to replace him in 1953. Among their responsibilities, these men were charged with responding to inquiries about AAL from other organizations and the surrounding community. With the NACA's reincarnation as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1958, Wentz became the first Public Information Officer for NASA Ames. Through 2003, Wentz was succeeded by nine individuals in charge of the Center's core public affairs efforts: Bradford A. Evans (1962), Stanley Miller (1970), Lauren D. King (1981), Richard Reeves (1986), John F. Murphy (1988), Del Harding (1990), Michael Marlaire (1995), David R. Morse (1999), and Ann Sullivan (2003). In 1967, the title of Public Information Officer was discarded in favor of Public Affairs Officer, and in 1985 the title became, simply, "Chief" of the branch.

    Sources Consulted:

    Hartman, Edwin. Adventures in Research: A History of Ames Research Center, 1940-1965. Washington, D.C.: NASA SP-4302, 1970.
    Muenger, Elizabeth A. Searching the Horizon: A History of Ames Research Center, 1940-1976. Washington, D.C.: NASA SP-4204, 1985.
    NASA Ames History Archives, NASA Ames Research Center. Moffett Field, California. AFS1070.8A, Archives Reference Collection. Telephone Directories. 1963-2003.
    NASA Ames Research Center Public Affairs Office. http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/publicaffairs.html  (accessed February 12, 2008).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms may be used to index this collection.

    Corporate Name

    Ames Aeronautical Laboratory (U.S.).
    Ames Research Center.
    United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Ames Research Center. Public Affairs Office.


    Ames Research Center--History.
    Ames Research Center--Public Relations.
    Government information agencies--United States.

    Geographic Names

    Moffett Field (Calif.)

    Scope and Content

    The Public Affairs Office Collection (23.5 cubic feet; 15,892 digital items) contain five main types of documentation accumulated by the office: records generated for the purpose of disseminating information about the activities and people of the NASA Ames Research Center to the press and general public; communications to center staff; reference material about programs and projects accumulated by the office; records accumulated by the office for the purpose of tracking the media penetration of its communications efforts; and records used to document and keep track of the office's internal business. The bulk of the records in this collection document the first three areas, information prepared by the Center and broadcast.
    The collection encompasses bound volumes, files, and digital material containing information in various formats on a wide range of subjects pertaining to the Center's research activities, projects, and facilities during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Included in these are news releases with and without corresponding photographs; bulletins; information sheets; brochures; audio-visual media; official NASA Ames photographs and transparencies (including a few proof sheets); and slide presentations. There are clippings files of local and national press coverage of NASA and Ames accumulated by the office, as well as albums containing collections of photographs, and press materials for specific space shuttle missions from 1981-1994. Also present are internal records, including "Centerwide" announcement circulars to the Ames workforce from 1997-2018; snapshots of staff and displays at trade show events from 1995-1998; administrative reference materials, mainly from the 1990s, such as handbooks and manuals; a catalog of videos produced by the office dated 1991; photograph captions dated from 1959-1992; Astrogram Committee records from 1991-1993; and staff notices from 1994-1995. The bulk of the records are in the form of press releases and their corresponding photographs.
    Across subjects, coverage is inconsistent, with greater information available for some topics, such as Space Shuttle missions, and less coverage for others, such as rocket systems. Because of efforts to retain original order of the records, there is redundancy in the records across the series.

    System of Arrangement

    The records are arranged in four series, all of which have been further arranged into subseries. The contents of Series I, News Materials, 1949-2020, are arranged by format, with bound materials in a separate subseries from files and digital materials, and then chronologically, by type and creator (NASA, Ames, or Moffett Field). Materials in Series II, Subject Files, are organized alphabetically. The contents of Series III, Photographic Materials, are grouped by format and further organized by subject. In subseries 1, Photographs, Subject Files, the original order of the files below the subject level frequently appeared to be disrupted and could not be determined, so an alphabetical arrangement was imposed. In subseries 2A, Transparencies/Subject Files are arranged in their original, alphabetical order. Materials in subseries 2B, Transparencies/Slides, were removed from their original binders and placed in protective housing in the order in which they appeared in the binders, from left-to-right, and top-to-bottom. Every effort was made to retain the original arrangement of the contents of Series II and III, even though there is duplication in subjects covered and records contained therein. Series IV, Administration and General Reference series, is arranged into three groups related to the internal business of the office, the first being materials the office used to conduct business and the remainder being records used to conduct research. These latter constitute a portion of the office's library of reference publications.