Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Hans Suess Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0199
Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
29.0 Linear feet
(69 archives boxes, 1 card file box and 5 oversize folders)
Date (inclusive): 1875 - 1991 (bulk 1955-1991)
Papers of Hans Suess, an Austrian-born geochemist who pioneered radiocarbon dating techniques and was a founding faculty member
of the University of California, San Diego. His papers span the years 1875-1991 and contain grant proposals, conference materials,
subject files, photographs, and writings by Suess and others. The collection also contains correspondence with prominent scientists
and UC San Diego faculty. Many of the correspondence files and the writings by Suess are in German.
Suess, Hans Eduard, 1909-
Acquired 1991, 1994.
Hans Suess Papers, MSS 0199. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.
Hans Eduard Suess was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1909. He was the son of Franz E. Suess, former professor of geology at the
University of Vienna, and Olga Frenzl Suess. His grandfather was Eduard Suess, who wrote
The Face of the Earth, an early work in geochemistry.
Suess studied chemistry and physics at the University of Vienna where he received a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1935. He conducted
postgraduate research at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Zurich and the First Chemical University Laboratory in Vienna.
In 1938, Suess accepted a position at the University of Hamburg. As assistant professor at the Institute for Physical Chemistry
in Hamburg, Suess conducted experiments involving the technical production of deuterium. During World War II, he belonged
to the group of German scientists assigned to explore the possibilities for utilizing atomic energy. Suess also served as
scientific advisor to the heavy water plant in Vemork, Norway, which was destroyed by Allied bombs in 1943. During the war
years, Suess became interested in theories of the origins of the elements, and in 1948 and 1949 he worked with Hans Jensen
on the nuclear shell model. Suess was co-author with Jensen on a seminal paper on the nuclear shell model. Jensen was later
awarded a Nobel Prize for his participation in the development of this model.
In 1949 Suess received an invitation from Professor Harrison Brown to visit the Institute for Nuclear Studies at the University
of Chicago as a research fellow. Suess immigrated to the U.S. in 1950 and spent 18 months in Chicago conducting research in
Harold Urey's laboratory. Suess worked as a physical chemist for the U.S. Geological Survey from 1951 to 1955. In 1955, Suess
accepted an offer from Roger Revelle to join the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In 1956, Suess established the La Jolla
Radiocarbon Laboratory. The findings of this laboratory, which utilized innovative carbon-14 measurements, included important
contributions to many fields of modern science.
Suess was one of the first four professors appointed to the faculty of the University of California, San Diego, upon its inception.
He served as professor of geochemistry from 1958 to 1977. His courses included cosmochemistry and radiochemistry. Suess' research
has focused on the distribution of carbon-14 and tritium in the oceans, the abundances of the elements, and other problems
of cosmochemistry. In 1977, Suess was named professor emeritus by the University of California. While at UC San Diego, Suess
also acted as consultant to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.
Among his accomplishments as an experimental scientist, Suess was responsible for developing and improving radiocarbon dating.
In addition, he has contributed to solving problems concerning the origin and synthesis of the elements and the evolution
of the solar system. One of Suess' major contributions is work that led to the development of the shell model of the atomic
Suess was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1965, the V.M. Goldschmidt Medal in 1974, and the Leonard Medal of the International
Meteoritical Society in 1977. He has served many guest professorships at European universities and is a member of several
scientific academies, including the National Academy of Science. His bibliography is extensive and notable for its documentation
of the development of the carbon-14 dating process.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Hans Suess Papers document the career and achievements of a renowned geochemist. The materials in the collection date
from 1875 through 1991. The nineteenth century papers pertain to Suess' father, Franz Eduard Suess, professor of geology at
the University of Vienna. The majority of the papers date from 1955 through 1991, when Suess was professor and professor emeritus
of geochemistry at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of California, San Diego. The papers contain extensive
correspondence with international scientists and include a comprehensive collection of Suess' writings, both published and
in manuscript form. The collection provides documentation of Suess' activities at UC San Diego and in international scientific
organizations. Also present in the collection are materials pertaining to Suess' activities at the University of Hamburg during
World War II. Photographs include images of Hans Suess, his family, and other scientists; and of planets, comets, and meteorites.
Accession processed in 1993
Arranged in twelve series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) CONFERENCES, 4) CONTRACTS, GRANTS, AND PROPOSALS,
5) NOTES AND DATA, 6) SUBJECT FILES, 7) AWARDS, 8) TEACHING MATERIALS, 9) WRITINGS BY SUESS, 10) WRITINGS BY OTHERS, 11) PHOTOGRAPHS,
and 12) PHOTOCOPIED ORIGINALS FROM THE COLLECTION.
Accession processed in 2011
Arranged in eight series: 13) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 14) CORRESPONDENCE, 15) UC SAN DIEGO MATERIALS, 16) CONTRACTS, GRANTS,
AND PROPOSALS, 17) NOTES AND DATA, 18) TEACHING MATERIALS, 19) WRITINGS BY SUESS, and 20) PHOTOGRAPHS.
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Aller, Lawrence H. (Lawrence Hugh), 1913- -- Correspondence
Anders, Edward, 1926- -- Correspondence
Arrhenius, Gustaf -- Correspondence
Asimov, Isaac, 1920-1992 -- Correspondence
Black, Robert Foster, 1918- -- Correspondence
Brun, Jomar, 1904- -- Correspondence
Harteck, Paul, 1902- -- Correspondence
Heisenberg, Werner, 1901-1976 -- Correspondence
Hubbs, Carl L. (Carl Leavitt), 1894-1979 -- Correspondence
Jensen, Johannes, 1934- -- Correspondence
Kamen, Martin David, 1913-2002 -- Correspondence
Mayer, Maria Goeppert, 1906-1972 -- Correspondence
Pauling, Linus, 1901-1994 -- Correspondence
Revelle, Roger, 1909-1991 -- Correspondence
Sagan, Carl, 1934-1996 -- Correspondence
Suess, Hans Eduard, 1909- -- Archives
Szilard, Leo -- Correspondence
Teller, Edward, 1908-2003 -- Correspondence
University of California, San Diego. Department of Chemistry. -- Archives
University of California, San Diego. -- Faculty -- Archives
University of California, San Diego. -- History -- Archives
Urey, Harold Clayton, 1893-1981 -- Correspondence
Geochemists -- Biography
Manuscripts, German -- California -- San Diego
Photographic prints -- 19th century
Photographic prints -- 20th century
Science -- 20th century -- Social aspects