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Guide to the Russell and Sigurd Varian Papers
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Collection Details
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  • Overview
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Access Terms

  • Overview

    Call Number: SC0345
    Creator: Varian, Russell Harrison, 1898-1959
    Creator: Varian, Sigurd Fergus, 1901-1961
    Title: Russell and Sigurd Varian papers
    Dates: 1836-1988
    Physical Description: 26 Linear feet
    Language(s): The materials are inEnglish.
    Physical Location: Special Collections and University Archives materials are stored offsite and must be paged 36-48 hours in advance. For more information on paging collections, see the department's website: http://library.stanford.edu/spc .
    Repository: Dept. of Special Collections & University Archives.
    Stanford University Libraries.
    557 Escondido Mall
    Stanford, CA 94305-6064
    Email: speccollref@stanford.edu
    Phone: (650) 725-1022
    URL: http://library.stanford.edu/spc


    Russsell and Sigurd Varian were co-inventors, with William W. Hansen, of the klystron and rhumbatron and co-founders of Varian Associates. Educated at Stanford University, physicist and inventor Russell Varian began his career with Philo Farnsworth on early television technology and with Humble Oil on instrumentation for oil exploration. In 1935, he returned to Stanford. Joined by his brother, Sigurd, a pilot with Pan American Airlines, he began work on microwave technology as a research assistant with Professor William Hansen. The klystron patent brought both financial gain to the University and the attention of federal research agencies, while leading to the formation of Varian Associates, one of California's first Silicon Valley companies.

    Scope and Content

    The Varian papers span almost a hundred years of creative and independent thinking, from early manuscripts of poetry by John O. Varian, to the creation and growth of Varian Associates. In addition to original research notebooks and correspondence regarding the klystron, the papers of Russell and Sigurd Varian include materials on numerous other inventions and ideas from Russell's work for Philo Farnsworth and Humble Oil as well as the brothers' years at Stanford and at Varian Associates. Unpublished short stories by Sigurd reveal his sense of humor as well as the adventure and danger of his career as a pilot in Mexico and Central America.
    The Varian Papers also contain correspondence, diaries, and writings of other family members including Dorothy Varian, Agnes Dickson Varian, Aileen Dickson Harrison, and Eric Varian. The letters and diaries of Agnes Dickson Varian pertain to family and community life in Palo Alto and Halcyon, California; Dorothy Varian's papers include her research files used to prepare her biography of Russell and Sigurd Varian as well as correspondence, talks, and other papers pertaining to environmental issues. There is also a series containing photographs documenting the family, Varian Associates, and the history of the klystron.

    Access Terms

    Cowell, Henry,, 1819-
    Farnsworth, Philo.
    Ginzton, Edward L. (Edward Leonard), 1915-
    Hansen, W. W. (William Webster), 1909-1949
    Humble Oil and Refining Company (Incorporated in Tex.).
    Stanford University. Department of Physics.
    Varian Associates..
    Varian, Agnes.
    Varian, Eric.
    Varian, John.
    Varian, Russell Harrison, 1898-1959
    Varian, Sigurd Fergus,, 1901-1961.
    American literature--20th century.
    Halcyon (Calif.)
    Microelectronics industry--California--Santa Clara County.
    Palo Alto (Calif.)