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Bright Ideas
from the National Archives for NHD 1999

Resources at the
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library


Atomic Research: 1930's Efforts to Secure Federal Funding

Lewis L. Strauss Papers: Strauss headed the Atomic Energy Commission during the 1950's. A very successful investment banker with an interest in physics, Strauss was approached to help fund atomic research projects in the 1930's. This eventually involved him in Einstein and Szillard's effort to convince FDR to provide federal funding for atomic research. Materials at the Hoover Library include correspondence with Einstein, Szillard, FDR, Strauss, others. A few items are available in the Online Catalog (OPA).

Fallout, Nuclear Testing, The Arms Race and Atoms for Peace

Lewis L. Strauss Papers: As Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission during the 1950's, Strauss was very concerned about threats to civilian health and world peace which were posed by nuclear testing and the nuclear arms race. In 1953, President Eisenhower decided to try to relieve world tension by focusing attention on peaceful uses for the atom. Strauss' involvement as one of Eisenhower's principal advisers on Atoms for Peace is extensively reflected in his papers at the Hoover Library. The Papers of Burke B. Hickenlooper also contain related materials. Hickenlooper was a U.S. Senator from Iowa and a leading member of the joint Committee on Atomic Energy.

Inventing the Digital Computer

Clark R. Mollenhoff Papers: Mollenhoff was a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who discovered that the real father of the computer, John V. Atanasoff, had been denied credit for his discoveries in the late 1930's. Atanasoff's claims were eventually confirmed in court and Mollenhoff engaged in a crusade to secure recognition for the former Iowa State professor. Some additional information may be at Iowa State , but this collection at the Hoover Library is believed to be the best available.

Making Early Planes Safe to Fly

John H. Geisse Papers: Geise was a Civil Aeronautics Administration official who became a successful inventor of aviation equipment -- notably safety and navigation devices -- in the 1920's and 30's. Related materials may be found in the papers of Herbert Hoover and William MacCracken at the Hoover Library.

The 1920s and 1930s: An Era of Technological Breakthrough

Many inventions and technological improvements were made during the 1920's and 30's. Important discoveries were made with regard to radio broadcasting, television, computers, automobile safety and convenience, nuclear physics, and airline passenger service. Various aspects of this technological explosion: are documented in many of the collections at the Hoover Library, especially the John H. Geisse Papers; Herbert Hoover's Commerce Department Papers; William P. MacCracken Papers; and the Lewis L. Strauss Papers.


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