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Scientists For Sakharov, Orlov and Shcharansky records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • General note
  • Historical Note
  • 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: English
    Physical Description: 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.
    Creator: Scientists for Sakharov, Orlov and Shcharansky
    Creator: Pripstein, Morris
    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.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 1998.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Scientists For Sakharov, Orlov and Shcharansky Records, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    General note

    Scientists for Sakharov, Orlov and Shcharansky will be abbreviated throughout as SOS

    Historical Note

    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 (see General Office File), as well as records of other organizations involved with the issues of human rights and writings of individual scientists (see 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

    Video tapes
    Dissenters -- Soviet Union
    Civil rights -- Soviet Union
    Scientists -- Soviet Union
    Scientists -- United States
    Sakharov, Andreĭ, 1921-1989
    Shcharansky, Anatoly
    Orlov, Yuri, 1924-