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    Description

    Manhattan Project Archive of Research Materials and Correspondence. An extensive archive including lab books, results, presentation papers, and communications; from Frick Laboratories at Princeton University, dated 1942-1946, produced by the research group headed by Dr. N. Howell Furman that served as part of what was collectively titled The Manhattan Project.

    The Manhattan Project was carried out by the Army's Corps of Engineers Manhattan Engineer District. The scope of work included the development of the atomic bomb, as well as the acquisition of raw materials needed. Within the army, the project was headed by Leslie Groves, who was made a Brigadier General for the purposes of heading the project. Groves selected Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and Hanford Engineering in Washington State as the primary sites for theoretical work and materials production. However important contributions were made by many laboratories across the country, including the work done by Furman's team at Princeton University. There were thousands of scientists involved; but the most celebrated scientist associated with the project was J. Robert Oppenheimer, the head of the Los Alamos, who was charged with the responsibility of bringing together all of these contributions into a single workable design, and then actually producing the bomb.

    Offered here is an extensive archive that records a portion of the work conducted at Frick Laboratories, Princeton University, by a team of scientists headed by N. Howell Furman. Our research confirms that the documents listed below are not part of the archive currently held at Seeley G. Mudd Library at Princeton, although it is clear that both are but small parts of what was originally a much larger archive. Many of the papers contained are stamped confidential, but all were declassified in 1954. It is likely that these papers were kept in Furman's laboratories, and after Furman's death were lost track of. Our consignor came to find them on the occasion of their being discarded in preparation for work being done at Frick in the 1970s. This was likely done in error, as Mudd lists their holdings as only occupying three linear feet.

    Includes:
    A form letter by K.D. Nichols on Armed Service Forces letterhead, personalized to "Prof. N. Howell Furman", one page, 8" x 10.5", Manhattan District, Oak Ridge Tennessee, undated but marked as "Rec'd Aug 7 - 1945". The letter related the news that the purpose and existence of the Manhattan Engineer District has been made public, but that all security measures must remain in place. The announcement made possible for participants in the project to reveal their connection to the project, although the "nature of your activities" had to remain secret. "It is the desire of the War Department to make available information which can be released without jeopardizing the security of vital phases of the project." The letter was likely issued to coincide with the bombing of Hiroshima, and its aim was to control the flow of information to the media.

    This particular letter has been inserted as the first page in a black "spring" binder (of which there are a total of ten in this archive) that contains a paper titled "A Method for the Determination of Minute Traces of Metals. Electro-deposition followed by Polarographic Estimation." Total of 24 pages, by C.E. Brickman and N.H. Furman, dated May 12, 1942, and at top, "Contribution from the Frick Chemical Laboratory, Princeton University." Marked "Confidential". It is possible that this particular paper was the team's contribution to the "Manhattan Project".

    Period Copy of a Congratulatory Letter from the War Department, one page, 8" x 10.5", August 7, 1945, the day after the bombing of Hiroshima. Addressed: "To the Men and Women of the Manhattan District Project", and reading in part: "Today the whole world knows the secret which you have helped us keep for many months. I am pleased to be able to add that the warlords in Japan now know its effects better even than we ourselves. The atomic bomb which you have helped to develop with high devotion to patriotic duty is the most devastating military weapon that any country has ever been able to turn against its enemy. No one of you has worked on the entire project or known the whole story. Each of you has done his own job and kept its own secret... "At bottom a typed note indicates that this copy was reproduced by "Madison Square Area" on August 8, 1945. Heavily toned and fragile, with chipping and a few small tears at margins, all well away from the text.

    Original Western Union Telegram, one page, 8" x 5.75", August 10, 1945, to Dr. NH Furman, from Kelley Madison Square Area Manhattan Project. In part: "Surrender of Japan appears imminent. Cessation of hostilities doe not repeal nor affect our program and all our work should continue as scheduled. Continue present security measures..." The second bomb had been dropped on Nagasaki the previous day, August 9, 1945. Fold lines present, toned; otherwise near fine. Stamped docket on verso.

    A large black ledger kept by Furman to record samples received from various locations, including MIT, US Engineers, Westinghouse, and DuPont. Each line entry notes the type and amount of the sample, as well as the date received and the date reported. With two additional cloth-bound ledgers kept by Furman, the first for the period December 1, 1942 to October 1, 1944; and the second from October 15, 1944 in which the last record is Feb. 5, 1946. Furman notes at the top of the first page: "Record of work & samples Jan. 26, 1942 - Dec. 1942 in 'Special Defense Note Book'". The larger ledger first listed is likely what Furman is denoting as the "Special Defense Note Book".

    Also:
    Small note book (approx. 4" x 7"), 180pp., belonging to W.B. Mason, containing a handwritten list of research studies published that pertain to cupferron. Three green marbled lab books , likely kept by members of the team, from the year 1944, all recording experiments and results, some which may be related to the Manhattan Project. Ten black "spring"binders of papers and presentations prepared by Furman's Princeton Analytical Group. Deferment papers for members of Furman's team, correspondence relating to the declassification of documents for use in oral presentations at scientific meetings, graphs, charts, receipts, and extensive notations made on scraps of paper.

    The collection of papers contained (over 2 linear feet) is too vast to list in great detail, and we strongly recommend all interested parties to carefully review its contents. Although the papers presented groundbreaking research in its day, the information contained is likely quotidian by today's standards of theoretical research. However, the value of the archive as a relic of the Manhattan Project and the birth of the atomic age is immeasurable. This is the first time an archive of this type has been available at auction.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2009
    16th-17th Friday-Saturday
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