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Maria Goeppert Mayer Papers
MSS 0020  
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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

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Maria Goeppert Mayer Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0020
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Languages: English
    Physical Description: 7.5 Linear feet (14 archives boxes, 1 flat box and 1 map case folder)
    Date (inclusive): 1906-1996 (bulk 1930-1972)
    Abstract: Papers of Maria Goeppert Mayer, Nobel Prize winning physicist and professor at the University of California, 1960-1964. The collection includes correspondence, biographical information, reprints, manuscript drafts, notebooks, teaching materials, subject files, news clippings and photographs.
    Creator: Mayer, Maria Goeppert, 1906-1972

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Papers of Maria Goeppert Mayer, Nobel Prize winning physicist and professor at the University of California, 1960-1964. The collection includes correspondence, biographical information, reprints, manuscript drafts, notebooks, teaching materials, subject files, news clippings and photographs.
    Accessions Processed in 1988: Mayer's papers contain a relative abundance of correspondence and her research notebooks. There are scant manuscript materials related to her numerous publications.
    Arranged in seven series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) REPRINTS, WRITINGS, AND LECTURES, 3) RESEARCH NOTEBOOKS AND CLASS LECTURES, 4) TEACHING MATERIALS, 5) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 6) NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS and 7) SUBJECT MATERIALS.
    Accession Processed in 1997
    Arranged in two series: 8) PHOTOGRAPHS and 9) AWARDS, CERTIFICATES AND DIPLOMAS.
    Accession Processed in 2015
    Arranged in four series: 10) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 11) CORRESPONDENCE, 12) WRITINGS BY MAYER and 13) PHOTOGRAPHS.

    Biography

    Maria Goeppert Mayer was born on June 28, 1906 in Kattowitz, Germany, to Friedrich and Maria (nee Wolff) Goeppert. In 1910 she moved with her parents to Gottingen where her father taught pediatrics at the University. She enrolled at the University at Gottingen in the spring of 1924 with the expectation of pursuing a career in mathematics, but soon became attracted to physics and the developing field of quantum mechanics. In 1930 Mayer took her doctorate in theoretical physics under the direction of Nobel prize winners Max Born, James Franck, and Adolf Windaus.
    While completing her studies at Gottingen she met and married Joseph Edward Mayer, an American post-doctoral fellow working in physical chemistry under James Franck. Together they moved to Baltimore, Maryland where Joseph taught at the Johns Hopkins University. In 1939 they went to Columbia University. There Maria worked under the direction of Harold Urey at the S.A.M. (Strategic Alloy Metals) Laboratory which researched the separation of isotopes of uranium. She co-authored a text entitled STATISTICAL MECHANICS (1940) with her husband. After the war she took a professorship of physics at the Institute for Nuclear Studies, University of Chicago. During this period Mayer began a long correspondence with Edward Teller.
    In 1948, Mayer began work on nuclear shell structure and the meaning of the "magic numbers"- those nuclei that have a special number of protons. She postulated these numbers to be the shell numbers of a shell model, a "nuclear counterpart to the closed shells of electrons" at the atomic level. In 1950 she met and began a collaboration with Johannes Hans Daniel Jensen which led to the publication of the book entitled ELEMENTARY THEORY OF NUCLEAR SHELL THEORY (1955). In 1963, Maria Mayer was awarded the Nobel Prize jointly with Hans Jensen for their work on the Shell Model.
    Maria Goeppert Mayer came to the University of California, San Diego, in 1960 as a professor of physics. At San Diego she taught while conducting research in nuclear physics under grants administered by Keith Brueckner. During this period Mayer publically encouraged young women to pursue careers in the sciences. She was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Akademie der Wissenschafter in Heidelberg, and the Philosophical Society. After a protracted illness, she died on February 20, 1972.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Preferred Citation

    Maria Goeppert Mayer Papers, MSS 0020. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 1972-2014.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Bohr, Niels, 1885-1962 -- Correspondence
    Born, Max, 1882-1970 -- Correspondence
    Jensen, Johannes, 1934- -- Correspondence
    Mayer, Maria Goeppert, 1906-1972 -- Archives
    Revelle, Roger, 1909-1991 -- Correspondence
    Teller, Edward, 1908-2003 -- Correspondence
    University of California, San Diego. Department of Physics.
    University of California, San Diego. -- Faculty -- Archives
    University of California, San Diego. -- History -- Archives
    Nuclear physics -- Study and teaching
    Nuclear shell theory
    Photographic prints -- 20th century
    Physicists -- Biography
    Physics -- Study and teaching
    Quantum theory
    Superconductivity
    Thermodynamics