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Arnold (James) Papers
MSS 0112  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Restrictions
  • Publication Rights

  • Descriptive Summary

    Languages: English
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla 92093-0175
    Title: James Arnold Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0112
    Physical Description: 35.2 Linear feet (76 archives boxes, 4 flat boxes, and 17 map case folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1946-2001
    Abstract: Papers of James Arnold, chemist, professor, and scholar. The collection documents Arnold's professional career, especially his work on Carbon-14 dating, gamma rays, the Apollo 11, 12, 15, and 16 missions, lunar sample research, meteorites, solar, and lunar history. The collection is also rich in materials related to NASA and the early history of UCSD. The collection includes grant proposals, materials related to research projects such as data, discussion of experiments and results, meeting minutes from both science and UCSD committees, and audiorecordings. The accession processed in 2000 spans the period 1955-1998 and includes awards and commendations, writings and talks, newspaper clippings, NASA publications, and photographs. The prints, slides and a film reel show Arnold and his colleagues and students, laboratories, equipment, testing, and cosmic and planetary features, many related to NASA's space exploration missions. The accession processed in 2011 spans the period 1950-2001 and includes correspondence, teaching materials, writings and research.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The papers of James Arnold, chemist and scholar, include correspondence, grant proposals, writings, notes, research data, minutes of committee meetings, awards, technical reports, bulletins, monographs, audio and video recordings. The materials date from 1946-1993, with the bulk of the collection dating in the 1960s and 1970s. The collection occupies 33.95 linear feet and is arranged in twelve series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) PROPOSALS, 3) RESEARCH PROJECTS, 4) PRE-APOLLO AND APOLLO MISSION RELATED MATERIALS, 5) WRITINGS BY ARNOLD, 6) COMMITTEES, 7) CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS, 8) TEACHING MATERIALS, 9) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS AND AWARDS, 10) WRITINGS BY OTHERS, 11) AUDIO-VISUAL MATERIALS, and 12) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES. The collection was arranged according to document type. Consequently, materials pertaining to a particular subject (meteorites for instance) can be found in a number of the series.
    The first series, CORRESPONDENCE, documents Arnold's professional career and is arranged in two subseries: A) General Correspondence and B) Subject File Correspondence.
    A) General Correspondence contains correspondence that dates between 1954 and 1992, with the bulk from the 1960s and 1970s. The largest amount of correspondence is with Masatake Honda (1965-1991) from the Institute for Solid State Physics at the University of Tokyo and Devendra Lal (1969-1990) of the TATA Institute of Fundamental Research in India. Arnold worked mostly on meteorites with Honda and on lunar sample research with Lal. This subseries also contains correspondence with Robert N. Hamburger (1984-1986), Martin Kamen (1960-1989), Willard F. Libby (1955-1974; see also subject file correspondence on Carbon-14), Roger Revelle (1960-1990), Hans Suess (1961-1992; see also subject file correspondence entitled "Interrogation of Hans Suess's son...), Harold Urey (1961-1981), and Herbert York (1969-1986). This series also contains correspondence with Jerry Wasserburg, Bob Walker and Paul Gast, the three scientists with whom Arnold, in the mid- to late 1960s, exerted pressure on NASA to ensure the scientifically sound study of lunar samples. They were dubbed the "Four Horseman of the Apocalypse" for their bravado in dealing with the NASA administration. Also of interest is Arnold's correspondence in 1990 with Vice-President Dan Quayle, which is filed under the heading "Augustine Committee" and includes the bold letter written to the Vice-President urging him to terminate the Space Station Freedom and telling him that "NASA needs a major shake-up." Correspondence in the folder entitled "Committee of Concerned Scientists" (1980-1983) documents activities western scientists who believed in the free exchange of scientific and technical ideas between the West and the Soviet Union. This group protested the persistent repression of Soviet scientists, especially Jewish scientists, by the Soviet government. Included in this file are press releases, editorials, and a presentation to Congress written by several members of the committee intended to publicize the plight of Soviet scientists, who were often arrested and detained indefinitely. The file also contains letters written by Arnold to influential Soviet officials urging for the release of several scientists. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by last name or name of organization and chronologically within each folder.
    B) Subject File Correspondence covers the period 1947-1981 and consists of correspondence that was filed together by Arnold according to the subject of the correspondence. Several of the correspondents listed in the general correspondence subseries, particularly Willard F. Libby, Jack Trombka, and Hans Suess, are also represented in this subseries. Of particular interest are the files pertaining to Carbon-14, the Apollo gamma ray spectrometer and the harassment of Dr. Hans Suess's son by law enforcement agents. The Carbon-14 files document some of the events surrounding the development of Carbon-14 dating, including sensitive topics created by the discovery, such as the accuracy of the method and its impact on widely held scientific and religious theories. The Apollo gamma ray spectrometer files, dating between 1964-1979, contain discussion of the creation of experiments and of the results. Also of interest is the file entitled the "Lunar Research and NASA's Appropriation Bill (1978)" which includes letters by Arnold and his colleagues to Senators Proxmire, Schmitt, Cranston, Hayakawa, Sasser, and Dr. Frank Press, science advisor to President Carter, urging them to continue funding for NASA's lunar sample analysis program. This subseries also contains materials regarding the memorial service held for Joseph Mayer on December 3, 1983. Included are RSVP letters for the service, letters from Joseph Mayer's son Peter describing his father, and drafts of memorial biographies about Mayer. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by subject and chronologically within each folder.
    The second series, PROPOSALS, spans the period 1951-1993. The majority of the material is from the 1970s and 1980s and, thus, primarily documents Arnold's work at UCSD. The bulk of the material in this series consists of grant proposals for research projects for which Arnold served as Principal Investigator. These proposals lay out in detail the background, goals, and methodology of each project and show how the projects progressed and transformed. There is an extensive list of different research projects in this series, but the most prevalent projects found are those related to meteorites (age and erosional history, cosmogenic radioactivity and origin), lunar and orbital gamma ray experiments, historical studies of extraterrestrial materials, gamma ray spectroscopy, analysis of lunar samples, and solar and lunar history. Also in this series are the proposals concerning the geochronology of the earth, the NASA space science building, the creation of a NASA think tank for long-range issues, and the relation between global climate and the history of desert formation. Grant proposals not from UCSD are identified by the name of the relevant University or laboratory; this is appended at the end of the corresponding folder title. This series is arranged alphabetically according to the title of the proposal and then chronologically within each file.
    The third series, RESEARCH PROJECTS, contains materials related to research projects that Arnold participated in between 1946 and 1991. The files contain holograph notes written by Arnold, equations, calculations, procedures, research data, status reports, descriptions of projects, and correspondence that relates to the particular research project. Also included are Arnold's gamma ray spectrometer laboratory notebook, the color printed maps of Mars, and the Mariner 7 photographs of Mars. The files containing what Arnold called "early historical materials" on the lunar receiving laboratory and the mass accelerator spectrometer contain notes, plans, and correspondence detailing the background of these projects. This series is arranged alphabetically according to the subject (determined by Arnold) of the folder, then chronologically within the folder.
    The fourth series, PRE-APOLLO AND APOLLO MISSION RELATED MATERIALS, largely put together by Arnold himself, contains extremely important items relevant to the history of Apollo. Included are calculations, plans, reports, studies, design drawings, research data, maps, and meeting minutes materials related to the Apollo 11, 12, 15, and 16 missions and to the lunar samples that were acquired during these missions. The materials in this series, dated 1963-1993, are arranged alphabetically by subject and then chronologically within each folder. Most items are from the late 1960s and early 1970s.
    The fifth series, WRITINGS BY ARNOLD, consists mostly of typescripts of Arnold's scientific writings (often with several revisions), some holographs, reprints, and a few clippings of published writings. Many of the folders include comments and correspondence with colleagues and editors regarding the content of the written text and research data related to the writings. Also included are memorial texts written by Arnold on W.F. Libby, L. Szilard, and H.C. Urey. The Urey memorial files include several drafts of memorial essays written by Arnold for a memoir of Urey Arnold compiled with Clyde Hutchison and Jacob Bigeliesen. Also in this folder is an unpublished copy of an autobiography by Urey. The writings date from 1948 to 1992 and are arranged alphabetically by title.
    The sixth series, COMMITTEES, is arranged in three subseries: A) Miscellaneous Committees, B) NASA-type Committees and C) UCSD Committees.
    A) The first subseries, Miscellaneous Committees, contains materials such as research data, reports, plans, and summaries of experiments. Also included are meeting minutes and correspondence pertaining to the committees' plans and activities. Materials from the Comet Science Working Group, the Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX), Mars Science Working Group, and the Space Station Task Force make up the bulk of this series.
    B) The second subseries, NASA-Type Committees, is a series established by Arnold and which may overlap with the Miscellaneous Committees series. Like the Miscellaneous Committees series, the NASA-Type Committees includes reports, summaries of experiments, plans, minutes, and correspondence. Materials on the Comet Nucleus Penetrator Team, the Lunar Sample Preliminary Examination Team, and the Mars Geoscience Climatology Orbiter Group make up the bulk of this series.
    C) The third subseries, UCSD Committees, consists of reports, correspondence, inter-campus memos, and minutes from many of the UCSD committees Arnold served on in the 1960s and 1970s. Included is the file entitled "Committee on University Community Planning." This file contains materials regarding the development and use of land surrounding UCSD in the early 1970s. Most items in this folder pertain to the proposed development of a University Towne Center and its impact on the community. Also in this series are the items in the folder entitled "Opportunities for Underprivileged High School Students," which are plans to bring students from local high schools who are academically qualified but culturally disadvantaged to visit the college. This series also contains materials relating to the proposed development of a dental school (1965-1966) and a veterinary school (1966) at UCSD. All of the materials in this series are arranged alphabetically by the name of the committee, then chronologically within each folder.
    This small series contains brochures, announcements, agendas, and correspondence pertaining to specific conferences and meetings. Also included are some of the papers presented and discussed at these events, often accompanied by Arnold's notes. Among the conferences documented in this series are the American Geophysical Union, the Lunar Science Conference and the Soviet American Conference on the Geochemistry of the Moon and Planets. These materials are dated 1957-1991 and are arranged alphabetically by name of the conference.
    The eighth series contains a small amount of material related to Arnold's teaching career. Included are course outlines from chemistry courses at UCSD, chemistry exams given at the University of Chicago, and course hand-outs presented at Princeton University. This series, dated 1951-1978, is arranged alphabetically by subject.
    The ninth series, BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS AND AWARDS, contains newspaper clippings about Arnold and some of the many award certificates that he received. Of particular interest is the folder that documents Arnold's appointment to the Harold Clayton Urey chair, including Arnold's acceptance speech and press releases. These materials are dated 1958-1990 and are arranged alphabetically by subject or title of the award.
    The tenth series contains writings by others. The typescripts are often accompanied by correspondence and holograph notes written by Arnold. This small series, dated 1964-1992, is arranged alphabetically by author's last name.
    The eleventh series, AUDIO-VISUAL MATERIALS, contained one cassette tape of the Joseph E. Mayer Memorial in 1983 which has been separated from the collection, catalogued and placed in the cassette tape collection in Special Collections. Included in this series is one reel to reel tape recording of both the Darey Medal and the Urey Medal acceptance speeches of 1969 and video cassette recordings of Arnold teaching chemistry courses and conducting a gas experiment. Most of these items are undated. This series also includes about one hundred miscellaneous overhead projector transparencies that are also largely undated.
    The twelfth series contains all of the originals, that because of their fragile condition, have been removed from the collection and replaced by photocopy surrogates.
    The 2000 accession includes awards and commendations, correspondence, writings and talks, newspaper clippings, NASA publications, and photographic material. The prints, slides and a film reel show Arnold and his colleagues and students, laboratories, equipment, testing, and cosmic and planetary features, many related to NASA's space exploration missions. The accession is arranged in four series: 13) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIAL, 14) CORRESPONDENCE, 15) WRITINGS AND TALKS, and 16) PHOTOGRAPHS.
    The MISCELLANEOUS MATERIAL series is arranged alphabetically by folder title. It documents Arnold's achievements and contributions to NASA's space program in awards, newspaper clippings, press releases and includes a sabbatical report and visa for a trip to Russia.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series is arranged alphabetically, spans the period 1955-1996, and includes correspondents such as Buzz Aldrin, Roger Revelle, Sally Ride, and Gertrude Szilard.
    The WRITINGS AND TALKS series is arranged in two subseries: A) Writings and B) Talks.
    A) The Writings subseries is arranged alphabetically by title and contains articles on space exploration written for a newspaper, an essay on development policies for India and a brief account of the first years of the chemistry department at UCSD.
    B) The Talks subseries is arranged alphabetically by title and contains Arnold's presentations to academic, scientific and general audiences.
    The PHOTOGRAPHS series is arranged in three subseries: A) James Arnold and Others, B) Research Projects, Missions and Equipment, and C) Miscellaneous.
    A) The James Arnold and Others subseries contains black-and-white prints, a lantern slide of Arnold and color slides of groups and individuals. Many photographs have dates and identifications, as well as accompanying notes with additional descriptions and anecdotes.
    B) The Research Projects, Missions and Equipment subseries is arranged chronologically by the dates of projects or missions using folder titles supplied by Arnold, who added handwritten notes giving dates, names and background information. Many of the projects involved scientific balloon testing, and the slides show launch and recovery phases. The 1966 film reel shows a test of stratospheric collection equipment. There are also slides from Apollo and Voyager missions, slides showing meteorite impact craters and classroom slides with graphs, charts and equations.
    C) The Miscellaneous subseries contains five sets of slides with accompanying pamphlets prepared by the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Three of the sets deal with aspects of Mars, one is a tour of the solar system and the fifth covers terrestrial impact craters. Slides prepared by NASA contains images from the Viking and Voyager missions. This subseries also contains groups of slides used by Arnold to illustrate his talks, scenes from UCSD's first graduation exercise in 1967, and a birthday party for Regis Lee.
    The 2011 accession includes correspondence, teaching materials, articles and typescripts, and laboratory notebooks. The accession is arranged in three series: 17) CORRESPONDENCE, 18) TEACHING MATERIALS, and 19) WRITINGS & RESEARCH.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series spans the period 1970-2000 and is comprised of general correspondence, followed by correspondence from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and letters from Philip Davis. Documents containing social security information are restricted.
    The TEACHING MATERIALS series spans the period 1980-2001 and is comprised of handouts, viewgraphs, notes, syllabi, and homework solutions related to Arnold's Space Science and Engineering class for the department of Applied Mechnical and Engineering Sciences (AMES), and other classes and lectures. The series is arranged alphabetically. An unpublished class reader related to Arnold's Space Science and Engineering class can be found in the Writings & Research series.
    The WRITINGS & RESEARCH series spans the period 1951-2000 and is comprised of three subseries: A) General Writings, B) Laboratory Notebooks and C) Realia. The series is arranged by material.
    A) The General Writings subseries spans the period 1951-2000 and contains annotated articles, reprints, and typescripts, as well as Arnold's unpublished class reader, "Space Science."
    B) The Laboratory Notebooks subseries contains Arnold's lab notebooks, as well as notebooks of other researchers. The series is arranged alphabetically by researcher and ranges in date from 1947-1988.
    C) The Realia subseries is comprised of a radiation counter used by Arnold during his research in 1949.


    James Richard Arnold (1923-2012), professor and chemist, received his bachelor degree, masters, and Ph.D degrees at Princeton University in 1943, 1945 and 1946 respectively. While doing graduate work, Arnold was associated with the Manhattan Project for the years 1943-1945. After completing his Ph.D., he joined the newly formed Institute for Nuclear Studies at the University of Chicago as a postdoctoral fellow, and in 1947, he went to Harvard University as a National Research Fellow.
    The following year, Arnold returned to the Institute for Nuclear Studies in Chicago, first as a research associate working with W.F. Libby on the development of radiocarbon dating (until 1950), then as an assistant professor of chemistry. Arnold then developed, simultaneously with a group at Los Alamos, the liquid scintillation spectrometer for carbon-14 and tritium, the latter a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. He also discovered the short-lived isotope Be-7 in nature, which has found applications in meteorological research.
    From 1955 to 1958, Arnold was on the chemistry faculty at Princeton University. While there he discovered the long-lived isotope Be-10 in nature and began the study of its distribution in the natural enviroment. In 1958, he came to UCSD as one of the first appointments in what became the main campus. Soon thereafter he became the founding chairman of the chemistry department and a full professor.
    In the 1960s, Arnold primarily studied cosmic-ray products in meteorites and lunar samples. With several colleagues he demonstrated the approximate constancy of the cosmic-ray flux over periods up to millions of years.
    Beginning in the same period and throughout his UCSD career he also participated in NASA planetary missions. He was the Principal Investigator for the Gamma Ray Spectrometer experiment first on the unmanned Ranger 3, 4, and 5 missions and then on the Apollo 15 and 16 manned missions to the moon. He was a Co-investigator on a similar experiment on the failed Mars Observer mission.
    Arnold was a consultant to NASA and has served as associate editor of the Journal of Chemical Physics. He was chairman of the sub-committee on radiochemistry of the National Research Council, and, in 1966-1968, he served on the International Technical Cooperation and Assistance Panel of the President's Science Advisory Committee. In 1964, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and has served on several of their committees. He received the E.O. Lawrence Award from the Atomic Energy Commission in 1968, and, in 1970, Arnold was honored by NASA with its medal for "Exceptional Scientific Achievement" in recognition of his work on lunar samples assigned to him by NASA. In 1976, he received the Leonard Medal from the Meteoritical Society. From 1979 to 1989, he served as director of the UCSD's newly established California Space Institute, a statewide research organization with emphasis on the useful applications of space. From 1983-1993, he occupied the Harold Urey Chair of Chemistry.

    Preferred Citation

    James Arnold Papers, MSS 112. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 1985-2012


    Personal documents contained in Box 72, folder 2 are restricted until 2076. The audio visual material in the collection is restricted. Researchers must request user copies be produced.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Space flight
    Gamma ray spectrometry
    Deserts -- Research
    Meteorites -- Research
    Climatic changes
    Radiocarbon dating
    Viking Mars Program (U.S.)
    York, Herbert F. (Herbert Frank)
    Voyager Project
    Honda, Masatake, 1920-
    Lal, D. (Devendra), 1929-2012
    Hamburger, Robert N.
    Libby, Willard F.
    Suess, Hans Eduard, 1909-
    Ride, Sally
    Arnold, James, 1923-2012
    Apollo 15 (Spacecraft) -- Pictorial works
    Apollo 16 (Spacecraft) -- Pictorial works
    Apollo 11 (Spacecraft) -- Pictorial works
    Apollo 14 (Spacecraft) -- Pictorial works
    Aldrin, Buzz