Can you identify the typewriter?
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1954 was awarded to Linus Pauling “for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances.”
In 1957, Chemistry Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling turned to other issues. Having been beaten in the race to confirm the form of DNA by Watson and Crick in 1953, Pauling turned to peace activism. He opposed atomic weapons and wars.
In this photo, posed, Pauling and his wife who partnered with him in his campaigns for peace, worked on a statement to be issued later, to be known as “An Appeal by American Scientists to the Government and Peoples of the World.”
Note the tools of editing of the day: Cellophane tape, glue, scissors, pencils and pens. The typewriter’s output could be cut into strips and rearranged on a separate sheet of paper, to be retyped later in order. This was manual, analog word processing.
An online exhibit of Pauling’s work and photos at the Oregon State Library explained the document being worked on, and its use:
While the debate raged, Pauling continued to keep a high public profile, speaking widely and appearing often in newspapers and magazines through 1956 and into 1957, garnering attention by positing shocking estimates of fallout-related damage to human health. By the spring of 1957 it appeared that his and Russell’s efforts were yielding fruit. Alarmed by the dangers of fallout, Japanese, British, German, and Indian politicians began urging a halt to H-bomb tests, as did the Pope and the World Council of Churches.
In May, after delivering a fiery anti-Bomb speech at Washington University in St. Louis, Pauling conferred with two other scientists, Barry Commoner and Edward Condon, about next steps. They decided to mount a scientists’ petition to stop nuclear testing as a way to draw attention to the concerns of a growing number of anti-Bomb scientists. Their “Appeal by American Scientists to the Government and Peoples of the World,” mimeographed and hand-mailed, garnered more than two dozen signatures within a week. Pauling took the project back to Pasadena, where he and Ava Helen, along with some volunteers, mailed hundreds of additional copies to researchers in more American universities and national laboratories. Within a few weeks they had gathered some two thousand signatures, including more than fifty members of the National Academy of Sciences and a few Nobel laureates.
On June 3, Pauling released his signatures to the world, sending copies to the United Nations and President Eisenhower. The petition made national headlines — and spurred an immediate attempt to isolate its primary author. Even the president took a shot at Pauling. “I noticed that in many instances scientists that seem to be out of their own field of competence are getting into this argument about bomb testing,” said Eisenhower, “and it looks almost like an organized affair.” This thinly veiled allusion to Communist backing for Pauling’s effort was echoed by a number of other critics of the ban-the-Bomb movement. The head of HUAC blasted Pauling on the floor of Congress for spreading Soviet propaganda. A few days later Pauling was subpoenaed to appear before a Senate investigatory committee (although those hearings were delayed, then canceled). Through it all, he continued to broaden the distribution of his petition through the end of 1957, expanding his mailing list to scientists around the world, including many in Communist countries. By the beginning of 1958, he and Ava Helen counted more than 9,000 signatures. When the expanded petition response was submitted to the United Nations, it once again made headlines worldwide.
Where is a text of the document? I found one image of the document in holdings of the National Institutes for Health. It’s indexed under “petitions” in the papers and documents of Linus Pauling in the Profiles of Science section.
For his work against war, Pauling won the Nobel Prize for Peace for 1962 (awarded in 1963). Pauling is the only person to have won two Nobel awards alone, undivided with anyone else.
Does that typewriter survive today? Is it in the collection of Oregon State University?
- Linus Pauling Collection a gem of Oregon State University Valley Library (photo gallery) (oregonlive.com)
- Touring the Oregon State University campus (photo essay) (photos.oregonlive.com)
- Oregon State University bell tolls for historic buildings, Linus Pauling Collection (video) (oregonlive.com)
- A mathematician’s magnificent failure to explain life (newscientist.com)