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H. H. Hess Papers

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Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. 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

Hess, Harry Hammond, 1906-1969

Harry Hammond Hess, the son of Julian S. and Elizabeth (Engel) Hess, was born in New York City on 24 May 1906. Hess received a B. S. degree from Yale in 1927 and then went to Princeton to pursue a Ph.D. in geology (1932).

Through the years, Hess held an assortment of positions, primarily academic, relating to geology. After completing his degree at Princeton, he taught at Rutgers University for one year (1932-1933), and assisted with research in the geophysical laboratory in the Carnegie Institute of Washington, D.C. (1933-1934). In 1934, Hess joined the Princeton teaching faculty-gaining full professorship in 1948-a post he would maintain until his death. At Princeton, Hess served as the chairman of the Geology Department (1950-1966), and was the sixth Blair Professor of Geology (1964). In addition to his teaching at Princeton, Hess spent two years abroad as a visiting professor at Capetown University, South Africa (1949-1950), and Cambridge University, England (1965).

While a graduate student, Hess began research in the fields of marine geological and geophysical studies by measuring the earth's gravity field aboard a U. S. Navy submarine in the Caribbean. Hess was given a commission as lieutenant in the U. S. Naval Reserve as a means to facilitate his work on Navy subs during subsequent trips. When called to active duty during World War II in 1941, Hess was initially assigned to enemy submarine detection in New York City. He created a successful system to predict German submarine location and kept the New York waterways safe. Hess then went on to other assignments in the Pacific, including landing at Iwo Jima. While traveling on the "Cape Johnson," Hess conducted echo-sounding surveys and discovered submerged, flat-topped seamounts between Hawaii and the Northern Mariana Islands. He named his seamounts discovery "guyots," in homage to the founder of the Princeton geology department and the first Blair Professor, Arnold Guyot. After being discharged in 1946, Hess remained active in the Naval Reserve, gaining the level of rear admiral in 1961.

With the assistance of Princeton, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, several oil companies, and the governments of Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Colombia, Hess established the Caribbean Research Project in 1947. As a result of this project, Caribbean geology was investigated extensively, particularly by graduate students, who used their data as the basis for their Ph.D. dissertations. Hess also proposed the Mohole Project (1958), which had the objective of drilling a hole through the ocean's "Moho," the Mohorovicic seismic discontinuity separating the mantle of the earth, to take core samples, and he originated a theory of ocean-floor spreading and continental drift (early 1960s).

Hess's interest in rocks was not confirmed to the earth: He was the chairman of the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences (1962) and a collaborator with several committees of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (1963), including being involved with the first moon landing, which occurred only one month before his death.

In keeping with his varied scientific interests, Hess was a member of innumerable committees, societies, and organizations relating to geology, oceanography, and space science. Furthermore, he authored many articles and book chapters on these subjects.

Hess died of a heart attack on 25 August 1969, in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, while presiding at a Space Science Board conference. He was buried in the Arlington National Cemetery. Hess was survived by his wife of 35 years, Annette (Burns), and their two sons, George Burns and Frank Deming Mather.

Consists of Hess's papers, articles, reports, lecture notes, on-site field notes, notebooks, correspondence, committee materials, off-prints, unpublished papers, photographs, documents, seismological charts, slides, and printed matter, as well as some papers of others. The professional correspondence includes letters from colleagues in academe, the U.S. government, geological organizations, and scientific societies. Much of the material in the collection covers the varied scientific topics with which Hess was engaged-in particular, Hess's work with the National Academy of Sciences' Space Science Board, which advises the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on scientific matters. Hess participated in the academy-sponsored Mohole Project, which had the objective of drilling a hole through "Moho," the Mohorovicic seismic discontinuity separating the mantle of the earth from its crust. The collection also contains work Hess did for the Office of Naval Research of the Navy Department, including material relating to his theory of continental drift. Furthermore, there are materials pertaining to the Princeton Caribbean Research Project, organized and directed by Hess, which explored every aspect of Caribbean geology.

This collection is currently unprocessed.

The materials in this collection were a gift from Mrs. Annette Hess. (AM 77-113, AM 77-113A) 2 offprints on the geology of Central and North Curaçao by Vermunt and Rutten, reprinted from Proceedings of Koninklijke Akademie Van Wetenschappen Te Amsterdam, Vol. XXXIV, No. 2 (1931) were a gift of Louis G. Zachos in 2005. (AM 2006-34)

Finding aid written by Ran Tao in 2004.

No appraisal information is available.

Publisher
Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Author
Ran Tao
Finding Aid Date
2004
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Collection Inventory

Physical Description

1 box

Space research, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Man in space, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Soviet space research, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Records of Space Science Board, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Records of Space Science Board, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

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1 box

Off-prints, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Unpublished papers on continental drift, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Caribbean geology, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

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1 box

Space Science Board, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Ad Hoc group on Security Classification, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Committee on Geography and Geophysics (classification of bottom topographical information), dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

AGU and AGA meeting programs, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Division of Geology and Geography yearly reports, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

NRC, 1952-1953. 1 box.
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1 box

Off-prints, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

DSDP reports, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Off-prints on geological and space science topics, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence with ONR regarding ONR grants to Hess and Department of Geology at Princeton, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Yearly status reports summarizing results of ONR funded research, 1948-1969. 1 box.
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1 box

Progress reports on NASA-funded research projects, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Miscellaneous professional correspondence, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

NSF budget statements, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Sample data sheets, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence regarding Caribbean Research Project, 1955-1956. 1 box.
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1 box

Off-prints on geology, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Fieldwork and projects in Venezuela, West Indies, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, 1930s-1960s. 1 box.
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1 box

Off-prints on space science and geology, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Space Science Board, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence on National Ocean Survey, circa 1968. 1 box.
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1 box

USS Barracuda West Indies Expedition information, 1930s. 1 box.
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1 box

Security clearance, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Off-prints on geology, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Geological maps, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Information and printed materials on magnetism, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Manuscripts from others, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence with Paul Kavangh, 1950s. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Research notes on various subjects, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Miscellaneous professional correspondence on fieldwork, 1960s. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence (primarily mid- to late 1960s), dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Data (mineralogical), dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

"Mars Scientific Model", 1968. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence, A-Ta, 1960s. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence, U-W, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence, A-Z, 1968-1969. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

AMSOC-Mohole general correspondence, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

AMSOC meeting minutes, 1959-1964. 1 box.
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1 box

Mohole meeting and subcommittee meeting minutes (Site Selection Panel), dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Site selection bids, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Congressional hearings, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Mohole Project (NAS) correspondence, 1965. 1 box.
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1 box

LOCO, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Association of Oceanographic Institutions, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

SOVMOHOLE, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Budget, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Congressional lobbying to save project, 1966. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

"Hess Notes on Mohole Project", dates not examined. 1 box.
Scope and Contents

Hand-written notes from meetings with Haworth & Seitz, Piore [Ph]

Physical Description

1 box

Address by Hess to Independent Offices Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee [Ph], 1966 May 25. 1 box.
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1 box

Barracuda Fault Site, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Drilling reports and logs from various test sites in Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, and Hawaiian Arch, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Publications, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Mohole, 1964. 1 box.
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1 box

Mohole reprints, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Archeological and science reports from Mohole, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence regarding Mohole, 1965-1967. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence from Al Engel, 1967. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence on petrology and SSB (mid- to late 1960s), dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Princeton Geology Department planning documents, 1960s. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Correspondence and data on Bahamas geology, 1940s-1960s. 1 box.
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1 box

Vouchers for expenses on DOD consulting and travel, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Data samples, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Field notes ( , ), 1939. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Reviews of manuscripts of others, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Pyroxene and meteorites correspondence, 1940s-1950s. 1 box.
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1 box

Miscellaneous NAS correspondence on awards and appointments, 1960s. 1 box.
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1 box

Miscellaneous professional correspondence, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence on endowments, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Geological maps, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Pictures and negatives of geological sites and samples, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

2 small spiral notebooks, one dealing with subsidence, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Physical Description

1 box

Correspondence on Hess' paper on guyots, 1946-1948. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Hess manuscripts and correspondence regarding manuscripts, late 1930s-1940s. 1 box.
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1 box

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1 box

Draft of paper on "Trenches" by Robert L. Fisher and Hess, 1961. 1 box.
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1 box

Meeting materials for NSF MPE Divisional Committee, 1960-1963. 1 box.
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1 box

General professional correspondence regarding geology and space science, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Letters related to offer of chair in geology from University of Texas, 1961. 1 box.
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1 box

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1 box

Biographical information, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Miscellaneous correspondence, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence between Hedberg and Hess, and Hess, Seitz, and Bronk on crisis between AMSOC and NSF and on reorganization of NAS AMSOC Committee [Ph], 1962-1963. 1 box.
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1 box

Camera-ready copy of "The Evolution of Ocean Basins", dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

AMSOC Committee meeting agendas and minutes, 1958. 1 box.
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1 box

Magazine extracts on deep drilling, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Technology Memorandum No. 1, from ONR, London, on proposals of Dr. T. F. Gaskell, British Petroleum, supporting deep earth coring and drilling to the Mohole, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

"Mohole, ", 1960. 1 box.
Scope and Contents

Meeting minutes and copies of correspondence

Physical Description

1 box

"AMSOC", dates not examined. 1 box.
Scope and Contents

Committee meeting minutes and general correspondence

Physical Description

1 box

SSB files and reports, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

General University correspondence on distribution requirements, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

File copy of "Experimental Drilling in Deep Water at La Jolla and Guadalupe", dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Correspondence regarding Drilling Techniques Panel and drilling in the deep oceans, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Report of Scientific Objectives and Measurements Panel, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

WHOI reports and memos, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

National Academy of Sciences, 1953-1967. 1 box.
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1 box

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1 box

Geological Secretary, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Geophysical Research Board, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Committee on Oceanography, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

Advance Committee to U. S. Coast & Geodetic Survey, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

NSF and MPE committees, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Various NASA committees, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

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1 box

American Geological Institute (House of Society Representatives), dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

American Society of Oceanography, dates not examined. 1 box.
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1 box

AGU, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Mineralogical Society of America, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

IUGS (U. S. National Committee 1964-1967, and correspondence [1960-1967]), 1964-1967. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Comite International de Geophysique, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Visiting Committees to WHOI, 1963-1965. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Publication and pictures on space, especially the moon, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Research data, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Lecture notes for classes on geology and oceans, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Meeting minutes/memos of Advanced Panel on General Sciences to DDRE, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

National Oceanographic Data Center, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Oceanographic Research Consortium (R. V. Anton Bruun), dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

U. S. Navy Hydrographic Office correspondence ( , , ), 1947. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

U. S. Navy Oceanographic Office correspondence, 1965-1968. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Professional correspondence, including a few letters from shipboard during the war years [Ph], 1935-1954. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

National Council on Marine Resources and Engineering Development, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

President's Committee on National Medal of Science, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

OST Ad Hoc Interagency Working Group for Earthquake Research, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

JOIDES Advisory Panel, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Ocean Nomenclature Committee, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Navy Deep Submergence Review Group, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Field research notebook, 1935. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Space Science Board records, 1967-1969. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Correspondence and other materials relating to geological exploration/field work in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Jamaica, and Dominican Republic, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Geological Society of America, dates not examined. 1 box.
Scope and Contents

Minutes and memos regarding annual meetings, council meetings, budget, by-laws, and general correspondence, circa 1962-1966

Physical Description

1 box

Mineralogical files, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Assorted geological off-prints, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

SSB printed materials, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Graduate school notes, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Course materials, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

National Academy ballot materials for Geological Secretary elections, 1957-1958. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Physical Description

1 box

Newspaper extracts, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Correspondence, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Reports, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Glass and film slides on geology and oceanography, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Assorted loose materials, primarily dealing with SSB, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Princeton University, students, and faculty statistics, 1950s. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

NRC Committee reports (bound), dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

DSDP reports, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

SSB reports and correspondence, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

PSAC correspondence, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

NSF correspondence on grant proposals and referee reports, 1961-1966. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Geology Department reports and information, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Nassau Club, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Off-prints and bound publications, primarily geological, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Off-prints and bound publications, primarily on space science and technology, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

"East Caribbean Basin" Map, 1949. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Print, Suggest