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Finding Aid for the Julian Seymour Schwinger Papers, 1920-1994
371  
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Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Julian Seymour Schwinger Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1920-1994
    Collection number: 371
    Creator: Schwinger, Julian Seymour, 1918-
    Extent: 28 cartons (28 linear ft.) 1 oversize box
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Abstract: Julian Seymour Schwinger (1918-1994) worked with J. Robert Oppenheimer in developing the atomic bomb, and taught at Harvard University (1945-72) and UCLA (1972-88). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1965 for his contributions in the field of quantum electrodynamics. The collection consists of correspondence, lecture notes, problem sets, manuscripts, speeches, reports, research subject files, videotapes, films, notes, computations, and printed material related to Schwinger's research and teaching activities in physics.
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: advance notice required for access.

    Additional Physical Form Available

    A copy of the original version of this online finding aid is available at the UCLA Department of Special Collections for in-house consultation and may be obtained for a fee. Please contact:
    • Public Services Division
    • UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections
    • Room A1713, Charles E. Young Research Library
    • Box 951575
    • Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575
    • Telephone: 310/825-4988 (10:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m., Pacific Time)
    • Email: spec-coll@library.ucla.edu

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Clarice Schwinger, 1996.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Julian Seymour Schwinger Papers (Collection 371). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Biography

    Schwinger was born February 12, 1918 in New York City; AB, Columbia, 1936; Ph.D, Columbia, 1939; received a National Research Council Fellowship and went to UC Berkeley to work with J. Robert Oppenheimer; contributed to the development of the atomic bomb as a staff member at the Metallurgical Laboratory, University of Chicago, 1943; staff member, Radiation Laboratory, MIT, 1943-46; taught at Harvard University, 1945-72; taught at UCLA, 1972-88; awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1965 for his contributions in the field of quantum electrodynamics; died July 16, 1994.

    Biographical Narrative

    Julian Seymour Schwinger (1918-1994), one of the leading physicists of the 20th century, shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 with Richard Feynman and Shinichiro Tomonaga for their independent contributions in the field of quantum electrodynamics. Schwinger's theoretical contributions in the late 1940s and early 1950s provoked a revolution in theoretical physics and laid the foundations for progress in ultra-high-energy physics and in probing the ultimate structure of matter.
    Schwinger's career spanned 60 years; the first of his nearly 200 scientific papers (and numerous books) was published when he was 17. The physicist Isidor Isaac Rabi guided his transfer from CCNY (College of the City of New York) to Columbia University, where he received his doctorate in physics in 1939. In 1939, Schwinger went to the University of California, Berkeley to work with J. Robert Oppenheimer and began making fundamental contributions to the science of nuclear physics. During World War II, applying himself to microwave problems, he contributed to the improvement of radar as a staff member in the Radiation Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    After the war Schwinger joined the faculty at Harvard University, becoming a full professor in 1947 at age 29. During this period Schwinger began publishing his papers on quantum electrodynamic theory, a refinement of the concept that Paul A.M. Dirac had introduced in 1929. Schwinger shared the first Albert Einstein Prize with the mathematician Kurt Godel in 1951, and received the newly created National Medal of Science from President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Schwinger moved from Harvard to UCLA in 1972 as a professor of physics, was named University Professor in 1980, and attained Emeritus status in 1988.

    Scope and Content

    Collection consists of correspondence, lecture notes, problem sets, manuscripts, speeches, reports, research subject files, videotapes, films, notes, computations, and printed material related to Schwinger's research and teaching activities in physics. The bulk of the material covers the periods he taught at Harvard and at UCLA (1945-88). Manuscripts of published and unpublished articles and monographs form the largest category of material in the collection by volume. Correspondents include: George Abell, McGeorge Bundy, Richard P. Feynman, Wolfgang Pauli, William A. Nierenberg, B. Stanley Pons, J. Robert Oppenheimer, David S. Saxon, Edward Teller, Gregor Wentzel, and Eugene P. Wigner.

    Expanded Scope and Content

    The papers of Julian Schwinger span the years 1920-1994; the bulk of the material covers the periods he spent at Harvard University and UCLA, from 1945 until his death in 1994. The collection contains manuscript notes and computations; manuscripts, typescripts, reprints and offprints, and correspondence of or about publications, lectures, and speeches; and class lecture notes, examinations, and problem sets and exercises. There is little material pertaining directly to Schwinger's personal life, professional affiliations, or appointments and administrative activities. The collection documents Schwinger's research, writing, and teaching in physics, and relationships with other physicists, including collaborators, competitors, mentors, and students.
    Schwinger's early, pre-World War II years are represented by a photocopy of the annotated typescript of what he later referred to as Publication 0 [zero] (On the interaction of several electrons, 1934); a manuscript notebook which contains, among other entries, extracts and notes on papers published by others from 1929-1935; and reprints (including P.A.M. Dirac) from this period. It is unclear if these reprints were received by Schwinger at the time of publication or were collected later.
    Manuscripts of published and unpublished articles and monographs, in various stages of completion, form perhaps the largest category by volume; the vast majority are longhand notes or transcriptions on yellow letter or legal pads or in spiral bound notebooks, and annotated typescripts. These are complemented by and at times interleaved with notes and computations in the same formats, in addition to university examination blue books, conference letterhead stationery, envelopes, placemats, or any other pieces of paper that were at hand.
    Lectures to scientific and other audiences, written in most of the formats described above, comprise another large portion of the collection. Transparencies or viewgraphs for overhead projection are sometimes accompanied by prepared texts; however, most often they served as the sole documentation of a particular lecture. The collection includes multiple versions of several popular lectures, including Schwinger's Sigma Xi Lecture (Conflicts in Physics, 1973) and his UCLA Faculty Research Lecture (Relativity and the Common Understanding, 1979). Personal tributes to mentors, colleagues, and students take the form of lectures which remained unpublished or which were later published as Festschrifts. Schwinger's contribution to the television documentary series, Understanding Space and Time (A University of California / BBC Open University production, 1978), is well documented by background research, notes, annotated scripts, production blocking and timing sheets, and correspondence; there is also one 16 mm. reel of film excerpts which the BBC created to accompany his UCLA Faculty Research Lecture.
    Class lecture notes, examinations, and problem sets (1946-1980s; bulk 1970s-1980s) form the third large segment of the collection. Course material on quantum mechanics and quantum theory of fields, nuclear physics, and electromagnetic theory ranges from fragmentary notes to, for the most part, extensive notebooks or bound manuscripts, written either in Schwinger's hand or transcribed by students or other observers.
    Preprints, reprints, technical reports, and photocopied articles received or gathered by Schwinger range in date from 1920-1994; some are arranged by subject, others by year. Curriculum vitae, publication lists, and several research activity reports give a detailed but incomplete accounting of his activities and accomplishments. The volume of Schwinger's surviving correspondence (1945-1994) is small, but its content is highlighted by letters to or from George Abell, McGeorge Bundy, Richard P. Feynman, Wolfgang Pauli, William A. Nierenberg, B. Stanley Pons, J. Robert Oppenheimer, David S. Saxon, Edward Teller, Gregor Wentzel, and Eugene P. Wigner.
    Some pre-1970 manuscripts, reports and correspondence are embrittled. Collection includes 1 reel Super 8 mm. film, 1 reel 16 mm. film, and several VHS videotapes.

    Organization and Arrangement

    The collection was generally in good order when it was accessioned. The bulk of the collection was transferred from Schwinger's home and the remainder from his campus office. Because of the large volume of untitled manuscript notes and computations whose relation-ship or lack of relationship to neighboring documents could not readily be determined, the papers for the most part have been left in the order in which they were found at the time of their transfer. Exceptions to this rule include: JS's publications and reprints (arranged in chronological order within each carton), class lecture notes (arranged within an individual carton first by class number, then chronologically within each course), and correspondence (arranged alphabetically within a carton unless found among notes and computations, in which case their order was not disturbed). Titles of manuscripts have been transcribed as they appear in the documents themselves; most folder titles were created by the processor. Titles or subject headings listed in quotations within the finding aid reflect terminology used by Schwinger.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Schwinger, Julian Seymour, 1918- --Archives.
    University of California, Los Angeles--Faculty--Archival resources.
    Physicists--United States--Archival resources.