Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the Martin Packard papers
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (94.12 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Contents
  • Access Terms

  • Overview

    Call Number: M0760
    Creator: Packard, Martin E.
    Creator: Varian Associates
    Title: Martin Packard papers
    Dates: 1946-1990
    Bulk Dates: 1975-1985
    Physical Description: 29 Linear feet (68 boxes: 67 manuscript boxes ; 1 record storage box)
    Summary: In the late 1940s and early 50s, physicist Martin Packard made significant contributions to the emerging field of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology at Stanford University. Packard was later employed by Varian Associates, where he became head of the analytical instrumentation department, Corporate Vice President, and finally Assistant to Board Chairman Edward Ginzton. The collection is largely from his time at Varian, consisting of correspondence and memoranda, subject files maintained as Varian’s reference library, and files related to Varian’s corporate history. Packard’s involvement with the Addiction Research Foundation is also chronicled in part.
    Language(s): The materials are in English.
    Language(s): While the bulk of the collection is in English, there is some Chinese, Russian, and German language material.
    Physical Location: Special Collections and University Archives materials are stored offsite and must be paged 36-48 hours in advance. For more information on paging collections, see the department's website: http://library.stanford.edu/depts/spc/spc.html.
    Repository: Dept. of Special Collections & University Archives.
    Stanford University Libraries.
    557 Escondido Mall
    Stanford, CA 94305-6064
    Email: speccollref@stanford.edu
    Phone: (650) 725-1022
    URL: http://library.stanford.edu/spc

    Administrative Information


    This collection was given by Martin Packard to Stanford University, Special Collections in 1990.

    Information about Access

    The materials are open for research use. Audio-visual materials are not available in original format, and must be reformatted to a digital use copy.

    Ownership & Copyright

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California 94305-6064. Consent is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner, heir(s) or assigns. See: http://library.stanford.edu/depts/spc/pubserv/permissions.html.
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Cite As

    [identification of item], Martin Packard papers (M0760). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Associated Materials

    Biographical Note

    Martin Everett Packard, born in 1921, received his B.A. in Physics in 1942 from Oregon State University and began working at Westinghouse Research. In the summer of 1945 (following at stint at UC Berkeley Radiation Lab for the Manhattan Project), Packard was introduced to Felix Bloch by his supervisor at Westinghouse, Stanford physics alumnus Daniel Alpert. Bloch explained to Packard his ideas concerning nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), which he termed nuclear induction. The following week Packard enrolled as a graduate student at Stanford University, working with professors Bloch and William Hansen on Stanford’s first NMR experiments. As part of this experiment, Packard was the first to detect the nuclear magnetic resonance of protons in water in January 1946.
    Bloch, together with Harvard physicist E. M. Purcell, shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1952 for their development of NMR. Aware of its commercial potential, inventor and Stanford alum Russell Varian convinced Bloch to patent NMR, which Russ and his brother Sigurd then licensed. This exclusive license was transferred to Varian Associates when they founded the company in April 1948. The first commercial NMR spectrometer was built by Varian in 1950.
    Meanwhile Packard, after earning a PhD in Physics in 1949, remained at Stanford as an instructor. In 1951, with students James Arnold and Srinivas Dharmatti, he discovered how NMR could be applied to organic compounds, opening the field of magnetic resonance analysis in organic chemistry. At the end of the term Packard joined Varian, as had many of Bloch’s former students. Thanks to the license, Varian led the field in NMR commercialization. Packard, along with James Arnold, James N. Shoolery, Emery Rogers, Forrest Nelson, and Wes Anderson, worked with NMR at Varian, “building NMR from a theoretical concept to one of the most widely used tools in analytical chemistry,” as his bio states.
    Continuing his research path, Packard published papers, developed with Russell Varian the Proton Free Precession Magnetometer (widely used in geophysics) and is named in eight patents with the company. In 1971 Martin Packard received the IEEE Morris E. Leeds Award "for his pioneering research leading to the practical use of nuclear magnetic resonance for the accurate measurement of magnetic fields, and for his contributions to the spectrometry of complex molecules." Packard retired from Varian in 1989.

    Scope and Contents

    In the late 1940s and early 50s, physicist Martin Packard made significant contributions to the emerging field of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology at Stanford University. NMR involves the measure of electromagnetic radiation absorbed and emitted by nuclei in magnetic fields. NMR is the underlying principle behind MRI and other medical imaging techniques. It also has important applications in chemistry, biology, and geology. Packard was employed by Varian Associates, who, building on their success with the klystron, were market leaders in the commercial application of NMR technology. The collection is from his time at Varian, and therefore should also appeal to those researching that company’s history, or the birth of Silicon Valley.
    While Packard came to Varian with NMR expertise, his role in the company quickly expanded, and the files contained here cover many aspects of Varian’s business. There are two main series of Varian correspondence and internal memoranda from the 1960s through the 80s, arranged chronologically. Packard maintained several document files as a sort of reference library, with each document (correspondence, memoranda, and background articles and papers) numbered and indexed. There are files for Varian’s dealings with the People’s Republic of China and the USSR, files on health concerns in radio frequency and microwave technologies (“Biological Effects”), as well as a general subject file arranged alphabetically.
    The collection contains a variety of material related to Varian’s corporate history, much of which was assembled for Packard’s “The Varian Story” lecture delivered at the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry in 1980. Most of these files are contemporary remembrances in the form of articles, papers, correspondence, and transcripts. However, there is a set of Russell Varian research notes, papers and patents from the late 1940s and 50s, and photocopies of the Varian newsletter from the late 1940s through the 70s. There is correspondence with Stuart W. Leslie about an unpublished Varian history, essays by W.G. Proctor, Dorothy Varian, and others, and various photographs, some of which are likely original prints. The last files involve Varian Fellows’ efforts to reinvigorate the company in the late 1980s. Historical files also include related information concerning Felix Bloch, NMR, Stanford University, and SLAC. Other Varian files include expense reports, sales brochures for spectroscopes, chromatographs, and other instruments, and records of the Palo Alto Capital Company (Varian’s Minority Enterprise SBIC).
    Packard was a member of two National Academy of Science panels on technology transfer and national security, and there is correspondence, memoranda, draft reports, and background information from both panels. He was also president of the Addiction Research Foundation, Avram Goldstein’s research clinic devoted to studying the physiological basis for drug addiction, and there are organizational files through its dissolution in 1989. Of course Packard’s own speeches, papers and other writings are also present, most of which can be found in their own series. There are also many notebooks, planners and business cards, as well as vacuum tubes and other unidentified machine parts.

    Access Terms

    Addiction Research Foundation (U.S.).
    Ginzton, Edward L. (Edward Leonard), 1915-
    Goldstein, Avram
    Packard, Martin E.
    Varian Associates
    Nuclear magnetic resonance.
    Radiation--Health aspects
    Science and industry.
    United States--History--Trade relations