Papers of a theoretical chemical physicist, researcher, author, consultant, and professor of chemistry at the University of
California, San Diego (UCSD) from 1960 until his retirement in 1973. Mayer is best known for his work in statistical mechanics
and the application of statistical mechanics to concepts of liquids and dense gases. His accomplishments include the writing
of two important textbooks in the field, STATISTICAL MECHANICS (1940) and EQUILIBRIUM STATISTICAL MECHANICS (1968), as well
as numerous papers and articles which stimulated scientific inquiry. Before coming to UCSD, Mayer taught at Johns Hopkins
University, Columbia University, and the University of Chicago. His first wife was the physicist Maria Goeppert Mayer (1906-1972),
who shared the Nobel Prize for physics in 1963. Joseph Mayer married Margaret Griffin in 1972.
Most of the materials in the collection date from 1946 to 1973, although some items, such as Mayer's college memorabilia,
originate in earlier periods. Most important are the writings and correspondence. Also included are materials, 1973-1975,
created by Mayer as president of the American Physical Society. Among the significant correspondents represented in the collection
are Max Born, Johannes Hans Jensen, Martin Kamen, Linus Pauling, Roger Revelle, Leo Szilard, Hermann Weyl, and Bruno Zimm.
Absent from the materials are records related to Mayer's consulting work for the United States Government during and after
World War II. Also absent is documentation of his activities at Johns Hopkins and Columbia University. The collection is
divided into thirteen series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 2) GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 3) WRITINGS BY JOSEPH MAYER, 4) WRITINGS
BY OTHERS, 5) SPEECHES BY JOSEPH MAYER, 6) ORGANIZATIONS, 7) CONFERENCES, 8) GRANT MATERIALS, 9) UCSD MATERIALS, 10) UNIVERSITY
OF CHICAGO MATERIALS, 11) GENERAL SUBJECTS, 12) PHOTOGRAPHS, and 13) LANTERN SLIDES.
The accession processed in 1997 contains photographs, awards, certificates, and diplomas and is arranged in two series: 1)
PHOTOGRAPHS and 2) AWARDS, CERTIFICATES AND DIPLOMAS.
The son of a bridge engineer, Joseph Edward Mayer was born on February 5, 1904 in New York City. His family later moved to
Canada and then to California, where Mayer graduated from Hollywood High School. In 1924 he received a B.S. in chemistry
from the California Institute of Technology. He went on to the University of California at Berkeley and earned his doctorate
there in 1927 under the direction of Gilbert N. Lewis.