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Martin David Kamen Papers
MSS 0098  
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Martin David Kamen (8/27/13- ) received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1933 and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the same institution in 1936. He continued his research at Berkeley's Radiation Laboratory (later known as the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory) in 1936, where he co-discovered carbon-14 in 1940 with Samuel Ruben. Kamen was expelled from the Radiation Laboratory in 1944 as a security risk for unspecified reasons. During his career at Washington University (1945-1957) he focused on the biochemical processes of photosynthesis. Much of his energy at this time was diverted by non-scientific matters: a libel suit against the Chicago Tribune, which falsely accused him of being a communist, as well as a successful 7-year battle to recover his passport, which had been rescinded by the U.S. government. In 1948, Kamen testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1985, Kamen published an autobiography, RADIANT SCIENCE, DARK POLITICS, documenting the details of this period in his personal and professional life. Following four years at Brandeis University (1957-1961), he joined the University of California, San Diego Chemistry Department, where he acted as a "founding father" of the new campus. Kamen was named Professor Emeritus in 1977. Correspondence, research notebooks, manuscripts and publications, newspaper clippings, and other miscellaneous material arranged in five series: 1. BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 2. CORRESPONDENCE, 3. LITIGATION, 4. WRITINGS, and 5. SUBJECT FILES. The bulk of the collection dates from 1945-1955 and reflects Kamen's re-organization of his files in preparation for writing RADIANT SCIENCE, DARK POLITICS. The collection also includes correspondence and research notes spanning Kamen's days at the University of Chicago to his tenure as chairman of the UCSD Chemistry Department. Notably lacking, however, are materials relating to his co-discovery of carbon-14; these are held at UC-Berkeley's Bancroft Library. Documentation of Kamen's role as a faculty recruiter and policy-maker on the UCSD campus is also very limited.
Martin David Kamen, the son of Russian emigrant Aaron Kamenetsky and Latvian or Lithuanian emigrant Goldie Achber, was born a U.S. citizen in Toronto, Canada, on August 27, 1913. Kamen received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1933 and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the same institution in 1936. He has been married to Esther Hudson (1938-1941), Beka Doherty, a journalist (1949-1963), and Virginia Swanson, a pathologist (1967-1987). Kamen is most widely known for his co-discovery of carbon-14, although for most of his career he has worked in the area of biochemistry focusing on mechanisms of photosynthesis.
7.00 linear feet (14 archives boxes, 1 oversize folder)
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Collection is open for research.