The bulk of this collection consists of documents relating to Lawrence's work at RMI, including technical reports and administrative papers, as well as personal and business correspondence. The collection also includes some material on ARS and Lawrence's Chrysler years.
Biographical / Historical:
Lovell Lawrence, Jr. (1915-1971) was an amateur rocket experimenter in the 1930s under the American Rocket Society, of which he became president in 1946. He worked as assistant to the chief engineer of IBM from 1933 until 1941, when he joined with John Shesta, James Wyld, and Hugh Franklin Pierce to form Reaction Motors, Inc. (RMI), the first US rocket propulsion company, with Lawrence as president. Lawrence left RMI in 1951 over the gradual loss of administrative and technical authority. In 1953 he joined Chrysler's Missile Division as manager of power plant design. By 1956 he was director of the Redstone project. He went on to Chrysler's Advanced Project organization, first as chief engineer (1959), then as director (1961). In 1964 he became chief research engineer for Chrysler.
Other materials: turbo supercharger (held by National Air and Space Museum, Aeronautics Division, acc. 1973-132)
This collection largely documents Chillson's affiliation with the ARS, particularly his presidency in the early 1950s, and includes correspondence with ARS members, aerospace companies, and organizations such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the British Interplanetary Society, the International Astronautical Federation, and the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences. There is also correspondence with Wernher von Braun and Esther C. Goddard. The collection also includes papers presented to or published by the ARS, some diagrams and photographs highlighting rocket plans or capabilities, and some pamphlets and articles on rockets.
Scope and Contents:
This collection largely contains documents of Chillson's affiliation with the American Rocket Society (ARS), particularly his presidency in the early 1950s. The collection includes ARS organizational documents, correspondence regarding arrangements for National and Regional meetings, copies of technical papers presented at conventions and a few photographs. The collection is arranged as follows:
ARS National Meetings
ARS Regional Meetings
Each series was listed in chronological order. The ARS Regional Meetings are listed alphabetically by state and then in chronological order.
Charles W. Chillson (1910 - ) was an expert in air and rocket propulsion. Chillson received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 1931 and went to work in Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology from 1931 until 1936. During those years, Chillson worked with C. K. Greene on a mechanical controllable-pitch propeller which progressed through whirl-testing at the Army Air Force Engineering Division at Wright Field, OH. Chillson then moved to Curtiss-Wright's Curtiss Propeller Division as an engineer and project designer (1936-1940) and was later promoted to chief researcher for the years 1940 to 1947. In 1947, Chillson won the Collier Trophy for his propeller work and became chief engineer of the newly formed Rocket Department at Curtiss-Wright. In 1950, he became program chairman of the American Rocket Society (ARS) Board of Directors and was later elected vice president (1951) and president (1952-1955), before being made a fellow of the ARS in 1956.
This collection consists of approximately 0.3 cubic feet of material relating to Louis Goodman's work with the American Rocket Society (ARS) including correspondence; original technical drawings by Goodman and others; news clippings; publications; and five 8 by 10 copy photographs of Goodman and one 11 by 17 inch copy photograph of the Luncheon for Inventors of America held in 1941. There is also a small section of autographs given to Goodman by Willy Ley and a 1936 contract between Goodman, Ley, and Hugh Franklin Pierce stipulating a division of rights and rewards if a rocket designed and constructed by them wins the REP-Hirsch Prize (Prix d'Astronautique). Besides the aforementioned persons, notable figures mentioned in the collection include George Edward Pendray; Nathan Carver; Peter Van Dresser; Hermann Julius Oberth; Robert Hutchings Goddard; Walter Hohmann; Guido von Pirquet; and Franz Oskar Leo Edler von Hoefft.
Biographical / Historical:
Louis Goodman (1905-1973) was an inventor and artist who was active in the American Interplanetary Society (later the American Rocket Society (ARS)) beginning in the early 1930s. Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, Russia, he emigrated to the United States in 1924. Although he received little formal education, he was mechanically gifted and became an active member of the Society's Experimental Committee. In 1938 he helped design, with H. Franklin Pierce and G. Edward Pendray, the ARS Rocket No. 1. He also assisted other members in the preparation of their rocket motors on the groups' static test stands, notably, the ARS Test Stand No. 2.
Annalisa P. Magnusson, Gift, 2015
No restrictions on access.
This collection consists of pamphlets, bulletins, reports, and meeting notices from the ARS, RRS, and other rocket societies, compiled by Henry G. Elder.
Biographical / Historical:
The American Rocket Society (ARS), founded in 1930, is a national association of rocket and jet propulsion engineers devoted to the encouragement of research and engineering development of jet propulsion, rockets, and all types of jet-propelled devices. The Reaction Research Society (RRS), formed in 1943, is a nonprofit civilian organization whose purpose is to aid in the development of reaction propulsion and its applications.
Henry G. Elder, Gift, 1967, XXXX-0182, unknown
No restrictions on access
A collection of items attributed to rocket pioneer James Hart Wyld dating from the 1930s and 1940s. The collection consists of two boxes, with one containing notes and prints attributed to Wyld and the other containing original negatives.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of approximately 140 black-and-white negatives (28 35mm strips of 8 frames each, seven 35mm strips of 2 frames each, and six 3.5 x 6 inch sheets), predominantly taken by James H. Wyld, of American Rocket Society meets and rocket tests and an Elmira, New York, glider meet, and images taken by Wyld on various trips around the New York City area and elsewhere. Buildings, engineering projects, and landscapes pictured include the Lincoln Tunnel and the Triborough Bridge (under construction), the Empire State Building, Central Park, Gilgo Beach and Long Beach (Long Island), Port Washington, Fire Island, the 1939 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, the Vanderbilt Cup races in Mineola, New Rochelle, Cornwall, and the Catskills, all in New York. Also included are images taken in Princeton, New Jersey; Connecticut; Mount Washington, New Hampshire; and Massillon, Ohio. Individuals pictured include Frank Harrison, Albert Rice, and Bill Baum. The collection also consists of Wyld's personal papers including a diary covering the period of February 1931 to May 1936; a 1932 scientific notebook; two photographs of rocket test activities; a post card addressed to Wyld from "John" (possibly John Shesta) referencing a postponement; a portraint of James Wyld; handwritten report, "An Automatic Thrust and Mixture Control for Rocket Motors," 1946.an envelope full of information relating to a court case involving the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; a Princeton University Alumni Lectures pamphlet entitled America's Problem of National Defense by Professor Harold Sprout; five newspaper clippings related to rockets; an undated letter, missing the first page, to Wyld from Bernard E. "Ben" Smith regarding rocket testing; two letters, dating from 1938-1939, from Wyld to "John" (possibly John Shesta) regarding rocket testing; a report entitled Long Range Rocket, Section II (Propellant Systems) by Dr. Paul F. Winternitz, Director of Laboratories, Reaction Motors, Inc.; "Proposal for Unguided Liquid-Propellant Rocket Projectile" by an unknown author, possibly Wyld; two drawings of rockets; three pages of notes handwritten by Wyld, and a letter from Albert M. Paquin to the American Rocket Society, with handwritten comment attached, regarding financial assistance from the Society for rocket research. In addition, the collection contains a memo to Wyld regarding Reaction Motors, Inc. stock prices; and Wyld's handwritten notes and drawings entitled, "The Design of Streamline Hulls and Fins for Rockets," "The Nature of Rocket Flight" (noted as draft of Chapter IV of Introduction to Rocketry), "Pumping Mechanism" (appears to be missing pages), "Superchargine Airplane with Oxygen," and six additional pages of miscellaneous notes and drawings. Some pages of the notes have been initialled and noted by Shesta and Lawrence.
Biographical / Historical:
Rocket pioneer James Hart Wyld was born in 1913 and received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Princeton University in 1935. He joined the American Interplanetary Society (later the American Rocket Society) in 1931. In the late nineteen thirties, Wyld developed and tested the first modern liquid-propellant rocket motors. In 1941 he, along with John Shesta, Lovell Lawrence, Jr., and Hugh Franklin Pierce, formed Reaction Motors, Inc. (RMI), the first US rocket propulsion company.
The American Rocket Society's Rocket Test Stand No. 2 is featured in negatives present in this collection. More information concerning this artifact can be found at American Rocket Society's Rocket Test Stand No. 2.
Anne W. Blizard, Gift, 2005, NASM.2005.0051
No restrictions on access.
This collection consists of Willey Ley's personal files, including his business correspondence, book contracts, and galley proofs, as well as publicity concerning Dr. Ley and his activities, and inquiries and comments from Ley's readership during his tenure as columnist for Galaxy Magazine (1952-1969). The material also includes articles gathered by Ley on topics ranging from astronomy and space travel to biology and natural parks to mythology, psychic phenomena, and UFOs.
Scope and Contents note:
The Willy Ley Collection reflects Ley's broad, restless curiosity about the world around him. However, the main thrust of this material emphasizes his intense interest in the aerospace field. Ley's significant contributions as a great proponent, theorist and historian of rocketry and space travel are quite evident in this collection.
For the most part, the collection encompasses the years Ley spent in the U.S., roughly, from the mid 1930s to his death in 1969. Accordingly, very little pertaining to Ley's time in the VfR is found here. This wide array of materials was sold to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum (NASM) by Ley's widow, Olga, in 1970.(1) Later that year, NASM personnel traveled to Ley's home in New York to transfer this collection to the museum. They were careful to maintain the overall order of the collection which reflects its original organizational structure, as well as the research techniques and thinking processes of Ley himself.
The collection of materials listed in the finding aid is arranged into four series. The first series is composed of personal materials that include correspondence, book and article contract materials, galley proofs, manuscript and article drafts, notes, articles, lecture invitations and brochures, photographs, drawings, travel and war-time memorabilia, newspaper and press clippings, book reviews, personal bills and receipts, business cards, children's' report cards and Christmas cards. The materials of this series range in date from the early 1930s to 1969. Except for moving this series to the beginning of the collection, original order was maintained. Additionally, original folder titles were retained (as they were for the rest of the collection). Correspondence, book/article contracts materials, research notes, articles, newspaper and press clippings and miscellaneous personal materials are arranged chronologically while the manuscript drafts, galley proofs and book reviews are organized alphabetically by title.
The second series comprises the bulk --about two-thirds, of the Willy Ley Collection. This series, the aerospace subject files, ranges in date from the late 1800s to 1969, and covers the following topics: biography (Ley and others), aviation, inventions, astronomy, space travel, rockets, artificial satellites, manned space flight, ground support and rocket test centers. The folders include correspondence, photographs, notes, reports, brochures, pamphlets, magazines, articles and newspaper clippings. Original order was maintained for this series. The materials are organized by subject.
The third series consists of printed materials. This series ranges in date from the early 1950s to 1970 and includes various publications (newsletters, pamphlets, journals, reports, directories, magazines and books). Also included are article and newspaper clippings. Ley organized the newsletters by title and then chronologically.
The fourth and final series of this collection contains non-aerospace subject files. Ley's certificates, citations and a scrapbook are found in this series. The certificates and citations are for Ley's civic and professional achievements. The scrapbook contains miscellaneous newspaper clippings regarding rocketry and space travel (in English and German) from the 1930s and 1940s. However, this series, ranging in date from the early 1900s to 1969, mainly encompasses materials not directly related to aviation, rocketry or space travel. Original order was maintained for this series. The materials are organized by subject.
The researcher should note that all the folders (except for those of Series 4) are numbered. This numbering system reflects an effort by NASM's Department of Space History in 1970 to create a rough catalog of the Willy Ley Collection as it was being moved to the museum. Though now obsolete as an index, these penciled numbers were retained and are written in the upper right corner of the folders.
Endnotes: 1. That same year, Mrs. Ley also sold her husband's collection of books and journals to the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Currently, it is known as the Willy Ley Memorial Collection and resides at the University's library. Wernher von Braun and NASA Saturn launch vehicle program manager Arthur Rudolph participated in the dedication ceremony in 1971.
Series 1: Personal Materials
Series 2: Aerospace Subject Files
Series 3: Printed Materials
Series 4: Non-Aerospace Subject Files
Willy Ley was a world-renown expert in and proponent of rocketry and space travel. Born in Berlin, Germany on October 2, 1906, Ley attended the Universities of Berlin and Konigsberg and studied astronomy, paleontology, zoology and physics. Beyond these studies however, he developed a passionate interest in rocketry and its potential applications for space travel. Accordingly, he wrote and published his first book, Die Fahrt in den Weltraum (Travel in Outer Space) in 1926 and helped found Germany's early rocketry and spaceflight club, Verein fur Raumschiffahrt or VfR (Society for Space Travel) the following year. In 1929, Ley, along with well-known rocketry theorist Hermann Oberth, acted as a technical consultant on Fritz Lang's film, Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon). Throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s, he continued to write books, as well as numerous articles in German and foreign publications, on the subject of rockets and spaceflight. Once Adolf Hitler took power in 1933, the Nazis pressured Ley to cease publishing his articles in foreign journals and magazines due to rocketry's potential as a weapon in Germany's arsenal. Also, the VfR disbanded during the Nazis' first year in power amid concerns among the membership regarding the interest the German military was taking in their activities. These factors compelled Ley to leave Germany for Britain briefly and then to the U.S. in 1935. He became an American citizen in 1944.
Until World War II, Ley focused his writing career on topics unrelated to rocketry and space travel. He discovered little interest in these fields among the U.S. public. He was successful though, with a number of non-space publications such as Salamanders and Other Wonders and The Lungfish, the Dodo and the Unicorn. From 1940-44, Ley was science editor of the New York newspaper, PM and later lectured as a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. He was also a regular contributor to a myriad of magazines, encyclopedias and digests such as Popular Mechanics, Cowles Encyclopedia and Galaxy. However, once World War II began and especially after Germany launched V-2 missile attacks on Britain in 1944, Ley found himself in great demand as an expert in rocketry. Following the end of the war, his writings, lectures and newspaper, radio and television interviews helped to spur even greater public interest in rockets and their potential for space flight. Additionally, his books on this subject were widely read in the U.S. and around the world. First published in 1944, Ley's Rockets, Missiles, & Space Travel enjoyed a great deal of popularity and justified numerous printings of revised editions. Other highly successful titles that Ley produced during the 1950s and 1960s included The Conquest of Space, The Conquest of the Moon (written with Wernher von Braun and astronomer Fred Whipple) and Beyond the Solar System. Ley, along with von Braun, artist Chesley Bonestell and others, collaborated on a series of space-themed issues of Collier's (1952-54) that helped to foster popular support for future U.S. missions to earth orbit, the moon and the planets.
Aside from his busy career as a prolific author and populizer of rockets and space travel, Ley was also a husband and father of two children. His wife, Olga, was an accomplished ballet dancer, model and author in her own right. The couple had to two daughters, Sandra and Xenia. Ley had hoped to attend the Apollo 11 launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida but died of a heart attack at his home in Jackson Heights, New York, on June 24, 1969. His death came only four weeks before the launch of mankind's first landing on the moon's surface.
1906 October 2 -- Ley born in Berlin, Germany
1920 January 11 -- Smithsonian Institution publishes A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes, a pamphlet written by U.S. rocket scientist Dr. Robert H. Goddard
1923 -- Romanian rocket scientist Hermann Oberth publishes short book, Die Rakate zu den Planetenraumen (The Rocket into Planetary Space)
1926 -- Ley writes and publishes first book, Die Fahrt in den Weltraum(Travel in Outer Space)
1926 March 16 -- Goddard successfully launches first liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn, Massachusetts
1927 July 5 -- Ley helps found Germany's early rocketry and space travel club, Verein fur Raumschiffahrt or VfR (Society for Space Travel)
1929 -- Ley (along with Oberth) acts as a technical consultant for Fritz Lang film, Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon)
1933 January 30 -- Adolf Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany
1935 -- Russian rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky dies
1935 -- Ley leaves Germany for Britain and then to the U.S.
1939 September 1 -- Germany invades Poland – World War II begins
1940 -- Ley begins stint as science editor of New York newspaper, PM
1942 October 3 -- First successful launch of Nazi V-2 (A-4) rocket, Peenemunde, Germany
1944 -- Ley becomes a U.S. citizen
1944 -- Ley publishes first edition of book, Rockets (book would eventually see many revised editions and renamed Rockets, Missiles, & Space Travel)
1944 September 7-8 -- First V-2 rocket attacks on London and Paris
1945 May 8 -- Germany surrenders to Allies
1945 August 10 -- Goddard dies
1945 September 2 -- Japan surrenders to Allies
1945 September 29 -- Wernher von Braun and other captured German rocket scientists are taken to the U.S.
1945 October -- Arthur C. Clarke first proposes concept of communication satellites in Wireless World magazine
1946 April 16 -- First successful launch by the U.S. of a captured V-2
1950 -- Ley publishes book, The Conquest of Space
1952 -- Ley collaborates with von Braun, artist Chesley Bonestell and others on a series of space-themed issues of Collier's
1953 -- Ley collaborates with von Braun and Fred Whipple and publishes book, The Conquest of the Moon
1957 October 4 -- Russia's successful launch of first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1
1958 January 31 -- Successful launch of first U.S. artificial satellite, Explorer 1
1961 April 12 -- Russia's successful launch of first human into space, Yuri Gagarin aboard Vostok 1
1961 May 5 -- Successful launch of first U.S. astronaut into space, Alan Shepard aboard Mercury-Redstone 3 (Freedom 7)
1964 -- Ley collaborates with Bonestell and publishes book, Beyond the Solar System
1969 June 24 -- Ley dies at his home in Jackson Heights, New York
1969 July 16-24 -- Flight of Apollo 11 succeeds in landing U.S. astronauts on the moon
List of Acronyms:
AFB -- Air Force Base
ARCAS -- All-Purpose Rocket for the Collection of Atmospheric Soundings
AS -- Apollo-Saturn [spacecraft-launch vehicle stack]
ELDO -- European Launcher Development Organization
GALCIT -- Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology
This collection consists of biographical material on Robert Gordon, papers authored by him and by colleagues on various aspects of rocket propulsion, and his associations with the American Rocket Society, the Aerojet Engineering Corporation and the University of California Department of Nuclear Engineering.
Biographical / Historical:
Robert Gordon (1917- ) graduated from Cooper Union before serving with the US Army Air Forces as an engineer and as a navigator. He joined the Aerojet Engineering Corporation in 1945 where he conducted research on rocket propulsion systems. In 1957,Gordon received his Masters degree in Nuclear Engineering and in 1962, a Ph.D in Engineering Science. While at Aerojet General Nucleonics (AGN), he worked on covert naval free-flooded submarines, advanced composite structures and the Snap-8 liquid metal power conversion system. In 1971, Gordon and two associates formed Advanced Composites Industries.
Dr. Robert Gordon, gift, 1999, 1999-0023, unknown
No restrictions on access