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02/18/2004 08:00:00

Caltech's Oral Histories and Personal Memoirs Online

PASADENA, Calif.—"In 1919, during the summer, when I was eighteen years old, I had been in southern Oregon as a paving engineer, a paving plant inspector, working for a contractor. . . And at the end of the summer, I did not have money enough to return for my junior year at Oregon Agricultural College. So I didn't return. I'd been sending my money to my mother, who was a widow and was having a hard time...."

This excerpt, from the personal memoirs of world-renowned Nobel Laureate and Caltech chemist Linus Pauling, is one of many intriguing tales and personal accounts contained in the California Institute of Technology's Oral Histories Online Project.

The original Caltech Archives Oral History Project began in 1978 for the purpose of recording the personal memoirs of distinguished scientists, professors, and administrators of the Institute. To date, approximately 200 interviews have been completed, and most are open to readers in transcript form.

The Oral Histories Online Project began in the fall of 2002, and brings selected interviews to the public in digital text form. Approximately 30 in-depth interviews from the fields of biology, chemistry, geology, physics, astronomy, environmental science, and social science are currently online, and additional interviews continue to be added.

The Caltech Institute Archives houses photographs, documents, and artifacts pertaining to the history of Caltech and the scientific community as a whole. The Archives is the recent recipient of a $10,000 grant to support the Oral Histories Online Project from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. The grant will allow the Archives to continue to provide additional interviews online, making them accessible to a wider audience. Founded in 1976, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation awards grants to support the humanities, the study of Venetian history, and research libraries.

To access interviews from the Oral History Online Project, visit

Contact: Deborah Williams-Hedges (626) 395-3227

Visit the Caltech Media Relations Web site at:


Written by Deborah Williams-Hedges