The Smithsonian Videohistory Program, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation from 1986 until 1992, used video in historical research. Additional collections have
been added since the grant project ended. Videohistory uses the video camera as a historical research tool to record moving visual information. Video works best in historical
research when recording people at work in environments, explaining artifacts, demonstrating process, or in group discussion. The experimental program recorded projects that
reflected the Institution's concern with the conduct of contemporary science and technology.
Smithsonian historians participated in the program to document visual aspects of their on-going historical research. Projects covered topics in the physical and biological
sciences as well as in technological design and manufacture. To capture site, process, and interaction most effectively, projects were taped in offices, factories, quarries,
laboratories, observatories, and museums. Resulting footage was duplicated, transcribed, and deposited in the Smithsonian Institution Archives for scholarship, education,
and exhibition. The collection is open to qualified researchers.
In Session One, David H. DeVorkin, Curator, Department of Astronautics, National Air and Space Museum, conducted a videotaped interview of Giacconi after a January
22, 2004, symposium in Giacconi's honor held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and sponsored by its Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention &
Innovation. The interview discussed his education, research, and career in astrophysics.
This collection consists of one interview session, totaling approximately 5 hours of recordings, and 110 pages of transcripts. There are six generations of recordings for
this session: original videotapes, preservation Motion JPEG 2000 and Mpeg2 digital remasters; VHS videocassette reference tapes, audio-cassette reference tapes, and Windows
Media Video files. In total, this collection is comprised of 5 original Beta-SP videotapes, 5 Motion JPEG 2000 and Mpeg2 digital files; 5 VHS reference videotape cassettes,
5 reference audiotape cassettes, 5 Windows Media Video files.
Riccardo Giacconi (1931- ), astrophysicist and Nobel laureate, is regarded for groundbreaking research the field of X-ray astronomy. Much of Giacconi's pioneering work
took place during his tenure at American Science & Engineering, Inc. where Giacconi and his team discovered the first celestial X-ray source outside the solar system and
designed and fabricated the first imaging X-ray telescope.
Giacconi received his Ph.D. in physics in 1954 from the University of Milan where he began his professional career as a member of the teaching staff. He was awarded a two-year
Fulbright Fellowship to Indiana University in 1956. After one year as a research associate at the Cosmic Ray Laboratory at Princeton University, he took the post of Senior
Scientist, Vice President in charge of the Space Research and Systems Division, at the American Science & Engineering, Inc. in 1959. He stayed at AS&E, serving as
executive Vice President and a member of the board of directors, until 1973, when he left to become Associate Director of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian
Center for Astrophysics (CFA) and Professor of astronomy at Harvard University. He remained at the CFA until 1981 when he was appointed first Director of the Space Telescope
Science Institute and Professor of physics and astronomy at The Johns Hopkins University. In 1991 he was also appointed professor of physics at the University of Milan. Giacconi
directed the European Southern Observatory where he oversaw the development and construction of the Very Large Telescope from 1993 to 1999. He then served as President of
Associated Universities, Inc., the operator of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory from 1999 to 2004. He was then appointed a research professor at The Johns Hopkins
University. Giacconi has been awarded numerous prizes for his scientific research, including the 2002 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of cosmic x-ray sources.
6.49 cu. ft. (5 record storage boxes) (2 16x20 boxes) (4 oversize folders)
This accession consists of the professional papers of Riccardo Giacconi (1931-2018), including materials surrounding Giacconi's winning of the Nobel Prize in 2002.
Additional topics include the European Southern Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, and x-ray telescopes.
82.13 cu. ft. (80 record storage boxes) (2 document boxes) (1 16x20 box) (1 blueprint storage box)
Atacama Desert (Chile)
Scorpius X-1 (Star)
These records document Riccardo Giacconi's professional career, and consist of papers illustrating his scientific work and administrative records relating to the institutions
at which he worked.
There is extensive documentation of Giacconi's professional activities, including meetings attended, papers presented (and published), his services as officer or board
member of professional societies; grants, proposals, and contracts, mainly with NASA; correspondence with colleagues; slides and photographs of many facilities with which
Giacconi was associated (some unlabeled); news clippings and press releases; appointment books and journals; and files documenting his association with Montedison S.p.A.
Series 1 provides biographical information about Giacconi. Series 2 through 12 offer a roughly chronological overview of the institutions and major scientific projects
with which Giacconi has been associated during his professional career. The institutions are American Science and Engineering (Series 2), Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
(Series 4), Harvard University (Series 5), Space Telescope Science Institute (Series 11) and European Southern Observatory (Series 12).
Although all the institutional series mentioned contain both scientific and administrative records, there is a noticeable decline in scientific content when Giacconi moves
from the Center for Astrophysics to the Space Telescope Science Institute. Interspersed amongst institutional series are series covering major scientific projects that spanned
more than one institution, including the High Energy Astronomy Observatory (HEAO) series of satellites (Series 6-9), particularly HEAO-B also known as Einstein, Uhuru (Series
3), and the Advanced X-Ray Astronomical Facility (AXAF), later known as the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (Series 10).
Series 13 through 17 illustrate Giacconi's tenure on various committees having to do, primarily, with space science. Series 18 and 19 detail his involvement with professional
scientific societies. Series 20 documents Giacconi's involvement in professional scientific meetings. Series 21 illustrates his involvement with Italian company Montedison
and its efforts to found a scientific research institute. Series 22 contains Giacconi's general correspondence, much of it from his time at STSI. Series 23 consists of publications
that did not match with any specific institute or project. Many of these publications are directed toward a lay audience. Series 24 contains generic materials relating to
x-ray astronomy including newspaper clippings and articles. Series 25 consists of Giacconi's appointment books. Series 26 contains materials that relate to Giacconi's personal
life, including receipts, pamphlets, announcements, and videotapes. Series 27 consists of awards that Giacconi received for his scientific accomplishments. The Nobel Prize
is not included in this collection. The total volume of the collection is approximately 95 cubic feet.
Riccardo Giacconi (1931-2018), an astrophysicist, was born in Genoa, Italy. He attended the University of Milan, receiving the PhD in 1954. From 1954 to 1956, he served
as an Assistant Professor of Physics at the University, then became Research Associate (Fulbright Fellow) at Indiana University. From 1958 to 1959, he was a Research Associate
in the Cosmic Ray Laboratory at Princeton University. In 1959 he took the post of Senior Scientist, vice president in charge of the Space Research and Systems Division, at
American Science and Engineering (ASE), a private research corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He stayed at ASE, serving as Executive Vice President and a member of the
Board of Directors, until 1973, when he left to become Associate Director of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CFA)
and Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University. He remained at the CFA until 1981 when he was appointed first Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STSI) and
Professor of Physics and Astronomy at The Johns Hopkins University. In 1991 he was also appointed Professor of Physics at the University of Milan.
Much of Giacconi's pioneering work in x-ray astronomy took place during his tenure at ASE, and he was a major force in the development of the company. In 1962 Giacconi's
group succeeded in detecting the first extrasolar x-ray source. In 1963 the same group obtained the first solar x-ray picture by use of an x-ray telescope, which had been
conceived, advocated, designed, and fabricated by them. In that same year Giacconi proposed an x-ray astronomy satellite, Explorer. The proposal led to a program of construction
in 1966-1970, followed by a successful launch in 1970. The satellite became known as Uhuru, and represented a major qualitative step in x-ray astronomy's observational capability.
Following this early work on solar x-ray studies, a major program, initiated in 1968, culminated in the flight of the SO-54 x-ray telescope on the Apollo Telescope Mount's
Skylab mission. In 1970 a program for construction of a 1.2 meter x-ray telescope for study of extrasolar sources was initiated. The program was modified in 1973, and finally
led to the Einstein Observatory mission, successfully launched in 1978. Giacconi had responsibility for the scientific direction and administrative management of all these
Giacconi went to the CFA as Director of the High Energy Astrophysics Division in 1973. He oversaw the conception, fabrication, and design of the Einstein Observatory, preparation
of the software and hardware for data reduction for Einstein, and the establishment and implementation of the Guest Observer Program.
In 1981 Giacconi became Director of the new Space Telescope Science Institute, managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy for the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA).When fully operational, the STSI was to be the center of operations and research for the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990.
From 1987 to 1988, Giacconi served as a consultant to Montedison S.p.A., an Italian chemical conglomerate, with the title of Chairman of the Board, Instituto Donegani, the
research arm of the parent corporation. This activity, which was an attempt to elevate Instituto Donegani to a world class center for chemistry, was soon abandoned.
In 1993, Giacconi left STSI to head the European Southern Observatory (ESO). ESO is an intergovernmental European organization for astronomical research. ESO coordinates
the activities of the La Silla and Paranal observatories in the Atacama Desert in Chile. One of the major scientific achievements of ESO under Giacconi's leadership was the
installation of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory.
Giacconi left ESO in 1999 and is currently the President of Associated Universities, Inc., which manages the National Radio Astronomy Observatory under a grant from the
National Science Foundation.
Giacconi is the author of over 300 articles on x-ray astronomy. He has been awarded numerous prizes for his scientific research, including the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics
for the discovery of cosmic x-ray sources.
This series deals with Giacconi's time as Director General of the European Southern Observatory and contains both scientific and administrative materials. The series
consists of meeting materials, reviews, correspondence, reports, proposals, budget materials, operations plans, and press releases. Unlike some of the earlier series in this
collection, the ESO portion was accessioned with a high degree of original order. This order has been maintained as well as possible, with minimal rearrangement and relabeling
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7416, Riccardo Giacconi Papers
This subseries consists primarily of agenda, correspondence and meeting notes for meetings of the ESO Council. Council meetings were held multiple times yearly. A lesser component of the subseries consists of individual committee meetings at the ESO Council meetings, management meetings and working group meetings.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7416, Riccardo Giacconi Papers