Frank J. Hartman papers
Held at: Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Frank Janczak Hartman was a radium specialist and consultant, born August 25, 1893 in the Bridesburg neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended Saint John Cantius School until the eighth grade, when he left school and went to work at Scientific Instrument Company. In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, he was recruited by the army to inspect luminescent dials. After the war, Hartman returned to Philadelphia and started selling radium products. He opened Radium Services at 19th and Chestnut Streets in 1919 and in 1934 became a sales agent for radium from the Eldorado Mining and Refining Company of Canada. Eldorado Mining and, after World War II, the Atomic Energy Commission, supplied him with radium and various isotopes.
The medical and financial value of radium was almost immediately apparent after its discovery at the turn of the twentieth century, but its control and proper disposal was not regulated. Reports of lost or stolen radium sparked financial and, eventually, public health concerns. High cost and public health concerns incented hospitals and other users to hire private individuals, known as “radium hounds” to recover the lost samples. By the late 1930s, Hartman, acutely aware of the dangers of radium, began work as a “radium hound,” searching for pieces lost by area hospitals and industry until his retirement in 1956. He was reportedly successful, recovering roughly 89% of the radium he set out to find.
Hartman died in 1986.
Lubanau, J.O. “Unwanted Radioactive Sources in the Public Domain: A Historical Perspective.” Radiation Protection Journal, Vol. 76, No. 2, February 1999.
The Frank J. Hartman papers provide an insightful view into the changes atomic energy brought to society. Hartman, who owned two companies dealing with radium, clearly saw the product’s value, but he also recognized the potential dangers and the damage that could result from the improper usage, storage and disposal of these materials. This collection will be extremely valuable to a researcher interested in Frank J. Hartman, the radium industry, sales and recovery of radium, atomic energy in Canada, the history of the discovery of radium and the Curie family, and how atomic energy affected the United States.
This collection is arranged into eight series: “Correspondence;” “Scrapbooks, Diaries and Notes;” “Research files;” “Promotional materials and equipment lists;” “Curie family information;” “Interviews;” “Photographs;” and “Publications.” For all but the “Photographs” and “Publications” series, some level of processing was performed by the Holy Family College Archives. Except where absolutely necessary, this general order was maintained in an attempt to preserve any original order that may have existed.
The “Correspondence” series is organized alphabetically. This series was processed prior to transfer to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the original archivist extracted certain correspondence and placed it in folders by the correspondent's name. The remainder of the correspondence was grouped by letters of the alphabet, but individual correspondents were not named. It is unknown if certain correspondents were extracted for a particular reason, and therefore this arrangement has been preserved. Researchers looking for a particular correspondent who is not named, should check for files labeled “Miscellaneous correspondence.” Almost all of the correspondence files in this collection contain materials other than correspondence, such as news clippings and other assorted documents.
“Scrapbooks, Diaries and Notes” contains a scrapbook regarding his business and the radium industry, Hartman’s Radium Diary from 1942 to 1956, and notes on meetings, presentations, radioactive materials and his business. The scrapbook has been disbound and it appears that photocopies were made of the originals at some point. The front page of Hartman's Radium Diary states, "Memorandums of radium work which could not be trusted to anyone but myself; due to the hazards and risks involved. Radium losses and recoveries at hospitals in Philadelphia and vicinity." Researchers interested in the radium used in the medical field as well as recovery of radium will find the Radium Diary to be extremely valuable. This diary is totally unique and will provide information that is not available elsewhere.
The “Research Files,” series consists of Hartman’s research files on topics that were clearly important to him personally and in the field. This series contains material that overlaps, to a degree, with both the “Correspondence” series and the “Publications” series. This series is arranged in alphabetical order, essentially in the order as it was received from the Holy Family College Archives.
The “Promotional materials and equipment lists,” were collected by Hartman, probably as a result of his business and his representation of other companies. Hartman owned Radium Services and Hartman Laboratories and represented both Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd. and Eldorado Mining and Refining, Ltd. This series contains ads, brochures and booklets on medical equipment, laboratory equipment and other products, and statistics.
Hartman’s fascination with the Curie family is evident throughout the collection. He collected information on Eve, Irene and Marie and this material can be found in the “Curie family information” series. The majority of the material is biographical and contains newspaper articles and obituaries. There are also images of the Curie family in the "Photographs" series.
Several interviews with Hartman were conducted and these are located in “Interviews.” Interviews were held by John Villforth, Erma Perry, and Richard Hand. For both the Perry and Hand interviews, audio is available in the collection. Transcripts (some handwritten) are available for all of the interviews. This series is arranged chronologically.
The “Photograph” series contains four subseries with photographs of “Frank Hartman;” “Scientists;” “Radiation Theory and Phenomenon;” and “Lantern slides.” There are two folders of photographs of Frank Hartman with colleagues, and the remainder of the series consists of photographs of scientists and radiation theory and phenomenon. Within the “Scientists,” the Curie family is the most documented, with excellent photographs, mostly of Marie. The vast majority of these photographs appear to be reprints. Photographs of the Curie family can also be found in “Lantern slides” as well as the "Curie family information" series. The “Lantern Slides” subseries also contains several images of Frank Hartman and many images of radiation theory and phenomenon.
The final series in the Frank Hartman papers is “Publications,” which is organized into nine subseries. The subseries are: “Frank Hartman;” “Atomic Energy, General;” “Atomic Energy in Canada;” “Commerce;” “Copper;” “Defense and nuclear accidents;” “Public health;” and “Miscellaneous.” These publications are a tangible documentation of how atomic energy affected nearly every aspect of society. Within each category, the publications are arranged chronologically. The “Miscellaneous” publications are items that are not very easily identified with any of the subject matter in the remainder of the collection.
Gift of Mr. Frank Hartman, 1971 and 1975 to the Holy Family College Archives. Transferred from the Holy Family College Archives to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 1997.
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
This collection was minimally processed in 2009-2011, as part of an experimental project conducted under the auspices of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to help eliminate processing backlog in Philadelphia repositories. A minimally processed collection is one processed at a less intensive rate than traditionally thought necessary to make a collection ready for use by researchers. When citing sources from this collection, researchers are advised to defer to folder titles provided in the finding aid rather than those provided on the physical folder.
Employing processing strategies outlined in Mark Greene's and Dennis Meissner's 2005 article, More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal With Late 20th-Century Collections, the project team tested the limits of minimal processing on collections of all types and ages, in 23 Philadelphia area repositories. A primary goal of the project, the team processed at an average rate of 2-3 hours per linear foot of records, a fraction of the time ordinarily reserved for the arrangement and description of collections. Among other time saving strategies, the project team did not extensively review the content of the collections, replace acidic folders or complete any preservation work.
- Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.
- Hartman Laboratories (Philadelphia, Pa).
- Radium Services (Philadelphia, Pa).
- U.S Atomic Energy Commission.
- Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Holly Mengel
- Finding Aid Date
- The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the College of Physicians of Philadelphia Historical Medical Library with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.
This series was arranged by Sister Mary Jane Menszenska of the Holy Family College Archives. This arrangement was preserved to maintain any original order that may exist.