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York (Herbert F.) Papers
MSS 0107  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Restrictions

  • Descriptive Summary

    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla 92093-0175
    Title: Herbert F. York Papers
    Creator: York, Herbert F. (Herbert Frank)
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0107
    Physical Description: 45.7 Linear feet (102 archives boxes and 16 oversize folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1958 - 1999
    Abstract: Papers of Herbert Frank York (1921-2009), founding director of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (1952-58); member of the Presidential Scientific Advisory Committee under Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson; chief scientist of the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA); first chancellor of the University of California, San Diego; and director emeritus of UCSD's Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation.
    Languages: English .

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Papers of Herbert Frank York, founding director of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (1952-58); member of the Presidential Scientific Advisory Committee under Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson; chief scientist of the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA); first chancellor of the University of California, San Diego; and director emeritus of UCSD's Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation. The papers highlight York's work on nuclear arms negotiations and disarmament, particularly after 1969, and contain correspondence, reports, memos, drafts of articles and books, news clippings, autobiographical sketches, date books and wall calendars, invitations, teaching materials, lectures, speeches, interviews, and video tapes. York's involvement in the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and Presidential Scientific Advisory Committee is documented, as is York's role in the debate over the Antiballistic Missile (ABM). Absent from the collection are papers related to York's directorship of the Livermore Laboratory and his files as UCSD chancellor.
    Accessions Processed in 1992
    The bulk of this material is correspondence, reports, teaching materials, drafts of York's books, and audio-visual materials. The papers generally date between 1961, when York moved to San Diego to become the University's first Chancellor, and 1987. Files generated by York prior to 1961 may be found in Related Collections.
    Many of the papers--correspondence, writings, and reports-- highlight York's efforts with nuclear arms negotiations and control, particularly after his 1969 anti-ABM testimonies before Congress. These papers also provide valuable historical recounts of events and organizations created after World War II, including a history of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), and the reminiscences of York and his correspondents, mainly scientists (see CORRESPONDENCE series). York's correspondence with leaders in science and public affairs (particularly Hans Bethe, James Killian, George Kistiakowsky, [Wolfgang] Pief Panofsky, I.I. Rabi, Victor Weisskopf, and Jerome Weisner) is notable and to a lesser extent, members of the Senate and Congress who were involved in nuclear arms issues. Not present in the collection are materials related to York's graduate career or work on the Manhattan Project, to his role as Director at Lawrence Livermore (1952-1958) and his files as UCSD Chancellor (1961-1964, 1970-1972).
    Accession Processed in 2000
    The accession to the Herbert F. York Papers processed in 2000 contains photocopies of declassified cable messages, correspondence, reports, plenary statements made at the United Nations, background information, briefing material, and draft treaty texts related to York's work as the United States ambassador and chief negotiator at the Comprehensive Test Ban negotiations in Geneva. It spans the period 1977-1980 and consists of a single series.
    Arranged alphabetically in one series: 10) COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN TREATY NEGOTIATIONS.
    Accession Processed in 2004
    The accession processed in 2004 contains materials which are complementary to those found in the previous accessions. Included are biographical files, correspondence, committee work files, York's writings, speeches, conference presentations, Comprehensive Test Ban negotiation materials, subject files, and book production files for Race to Oblivion: A Participant's View of the Arms Race. The series titles and their arrangement mirror those of the previous accessions.
    The materials highlight York's effort with nuclear arms negotiations and control and they supply additional information on history of arms race and disarmament and on key leaders in science, public affairs, and members of government involved in nuclear arms issues.


    Herbert Frank York was born on November 24, 1921, in Rochester, New York. He earned B.A. and M.S. degrees at the University of Rochester in 1942 and 1945, and the Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley, in 1949, all in experimental physics. His early career as a physicist and military science advisor (1943-58) focused on the development of nuclear weapons, while his later career as an advisor, consultant and professor have focussed on disarmament.
    In 1943, while still a graduate student, York was recruited by the University of California Radiation Laboratory to work on uranium production for the Manhattan Project. After the war, York finished his graduate work at UC Berkeley in 1949, and in 1950, with Hugh Bradner, planned and designed Operation Greenhouse, the atomic test at Eniwetok for diagnostic measurements of atomic blast. The following year he joined the physics faculty of UC Berkeley.
    In 1952, E. O. Lawrence asked York to prepare plans for a new weapons development laboratory, today known as Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. Following Atomic Energy Commission approval for the lab, York served as director of the lab from 1952-1958. It was during this period that he began informing U.S. defense policy-makers, serving on Army, Air Force and Defense Department advisory groups (1953-57: USAF Science Advisory Board; 1955-58: Secy Defense Ballistic Missile Advisory Committee; 1956-58: US Army Science Advisory Panel). York left Livermore for Washington, D.C., in 1958 to accept two positions within the Office of the Secretary of Defense: Director of Defense Research and Engineering and the Chief Scientist of the Advanced Research Project's Agency (ARPA, later known as DARPA). Before leaving Washington, York also served as the youngest member on Eisenhower's Presidential Science Advisory Committee (1957-1958). He served on PSAC again under Johnson in 1964-68.
    In 1961, York returned to the west coast to become the first chancellor of the University of California, San Diego. After moving to UCSD, York maintained his involvement in high-level defense policy-making. President Kennedy appointed York to the General Advisory Committee of the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (USACDA) in 1962, a position he held until 1969. He has been on the board of trustees of two not-for-profit think tanks since the 1960s, the Aerospace Corporation and the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). York acted also as an advisor to IDA's JASON division, a high-level science advisory group that York helped establish as Chief Scientist of ARPA in the late 1950s. York returned to Washington, D.C., (1977-81) to be a senior consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 1977-1981 and served on the Defense Science Board in 1978-1981. During the Carter Administration, York served as U.S. ambassador to the Comprehensive Test Ban talks (1978-80).
    At UCSD, York's tenure as UCSD chancellor was brief. He stepped down from the post in 1964, preferring to join the physics faculty. In 1969-1970, he was dean of graduate studies and in 1970-1972 was re-appointed as acting chancellor after William McGill's departure from that position until the appointment of William McElroy. York set up a program at UCSD called Science, Technology and Public Affairs to teach about and do research related to the arms race. After his four-year leave in Washington, D.C., York was appointed director of UCSD's Institute on Global Conflict on Cooperation, whose mission is "...to promote academic study of peace and security issues on all campuses of the university." York retired in 1988 and is currently director emeritus. He has written three books on his experiences as a defense advisor, Race to Oblivion (1970), The Advisors (1976), and Making Weapons, Talking Peace (1987).

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Preferred Citation

    Herbert F. York Papers, MSS 107. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego Library.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 1987-2004.


    Merit reviews and letters of recommendation are restricted until 2050. Original media formats are restricted. Viewing/listening copies may be available for researchers.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Diaries -- 20th century
    Arms race -- History -- 20th century
    United States -- Defenses -- History
    Nuclear arms control
    Nuclear weapons -- History
    Physicists -- Biography
    Nuclear nonproliferation
    Physics -- Study and teaching
    York, Herbert F. (Herbert Frank) -- Archives
    United States. Advanced Research Projects Agency
    University of California, San Diego -- History -- Archives
    Wiesner, Jerome B. (Jerome Bert), 1915-1994 -- Correspondence
    Weisskopf, Victor Frederick, 1908-2002 -- Correspondence
    Killian, James Rhyne, 1904-1988 -- Correspondence
    Kistiakowsky, George B. (George Bogdan), 1900-1982 -- Correspondence
    Bethe, Hans A. (Hans Albrecht), 1906-2005 -- Correspondence