Scope and Content Note
Title: Scientists For Sakharov, Orlov and Shcharansky records
Date (inclusive): 1975-2010
Collection Number: 98007
Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
Language of Material:
32 manuscript boxes, 2 oversize boxes, 1 card file boxes, 12 videotape cassettes, 3 phonotape cassettes
(15.0 Linear Feet)
Abstract: Correspondence, speeches and writings, reports, memoranda, press releases, statements, petitions, lists, financial records,
printed matter, photographs, video tapes, and sound recordings, relating to civil rights and dissident scientists in the Soviet
Union, and especially to Andrei Sakharov, Yuri Orlov and Anatoly Shcharansky (Natan Sharansky). Includes some papers of Morris
Pripstein, chairman of the organization.
Scientists for Sakharov, Orlov and Shcharansky
Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives
The collection is open for research; materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual
or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.
For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.
Acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 1998.
[Identification of item], Scientists For Sakharov, Orlov and Shcharansky Records, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution
Library & Archives.
Scientists for Sakharov, Orlov and Shcharansky will be abbreviated throughout as SOS
Scientists for Sakharov, Orlov and Shcharansky (SOS), formerly known as Scientists for Shcharansky, is a private non-governmental
organization created by a group of physicists at the University of California, Berkeley. It came into existence in the summer
of 1978 in response to the arrests of Yuri Orlov and Anatoly Shcharansky (later known as Natan Sharansky). There was a great
deal of concern in the scientific community over the numerous violations of human rights affecting fellow scientists in many
parts of the world. In the face of the seriously deteriorating plight of dissident scientist colleagues, the group felt the
need to plot out a totally new course of action on behalf of their beleaguered colleagues, with the focus on the Soviet Union,
but not exclusively so.
A guiding principle was to engage individual scientists to act collectively in unorthodox efforts to publicly "encourage"
the Soviet authorities to cease their human rights violations,by making the violaters pay a price for their transgressions.
Examples of such actions included an unprecedented moratorium on scientific cooperation with the Soviet Union, a "Hostages
for Elena Bonner" initiative where prominent Western scientists volunteered to serve as good-faith witnesses in the Soviet
Union during the temporary release of Sakharov's wife for medical treatment in the West, and picketing of embassies and of
selected scientists at scientific conferences.
Within a short time, the SOS developed into a nationwide organization with a membership of 2,400 scientists including 13 Nobel
laureates, 113 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and presidents of 20 major scientific societies, all committed
to a personal moratorium on scientific exchange with the Soviet Union. This action was quickly denounced in a major article
in Pravda, commissioned by the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which included
K.U. Chernenko and M.S. Gorbachev, future General Secretaries.
After the Soviet scientist and Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov was exiled to the city of Gorky in January 1980, SOS added his
name and extended its moratorium campaign internationally. Within months, SOS grew into an international movement to promote
the human rights of scientists, comprising more than 8,000 scientists from 44 countries.
As a result of the efforts of the U.S. government during the 1980s and the work of SOS, among others, Andrei Sakharov was
freed from his internal exile and Yuri Orlov, after years in KGB prison and labor camp, was released from Siberian exile and
deported to New York City in October 1986 as part of a swap that freed U.S. journalist Nicholas Daniloff and accused Soviet
spy Gennadi Zakharov; he then went on to establish a successful academic career at Cornell University. Anatoly Shcharansky
(Natan Sharansky), who was imprisoned by the KGB for his work on behalf of the Jewish emigration movement was also released
in 1986 and settled in Israel where he served for awhile as Minister of Industry and Trade in the government.
As promised in its moratorium pledge, SOS disbanded after the three scientists were freed.
Scope and Content Note
The Scientists for Sakharov, Orlov and Shcharansky collection in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives was donated in
1998 by Morris Pripstein, professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a founding member of SOS, on
the 20th anniversary of the founding of SOS. It consists mainly of the organization's correspondence and administrative records
General Office File), as well as records of other organizations involved with the issues of human rights and writings of individual scientists
Subject File). There is also a large volume of correspondence of the chairman of SOS, Dr. Morris Pripstein, with scientists and activists
representing various universities and organizations (see
Chairman's File). Finally, the audio-visual part of the collection forms a complementary addition to the records of SOS.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Dissenters -- Soviet Union
Civil rights -- Soviet Union
Scientists -- Soviet Union
Scientists -- United States
Sakharov, Andreĭ, 1921-1989
Orlov, Yuri, 1924-