This collection consists of six feet of material documenting Porter's many scientific contributions. The following types of material are included: photographs, lecture notes, correspondence, trip notes, newspaper clippings, symposium programs, papers, and periodicals, circa 1930s-1980s.
Scope and Content:
The Richard Porter Collection reflects Porter's career as an electrical engineer, rocketry expert, and a corporate manager and consultant. Almost the entirety of this collection consists of materials related to his professional work. This includes correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, reports, notes, speeches, photographs, brochures, pamphlets, programs, magazines, newsletters, papers, articles, newspaper clippings, miscellaneous materials (directories, mailing lists, transcript, etc.), as well as a scrapbook. It is worth singling out a few of the aforementioned materials for their particular historical significance pertaining to the development of rocketry and space exploration. Some of the correspondence, memoranda and notes reveal the inner workings of Operation Paperclip: the U.S. plan to seek out, debrief, recruit and evacuate German rocket scientists from war-torn Germany to America. Additionally, other examples of correspondence and notes give candid appraisals of some key figures in the aerospace field, as well as to illustrate exchanges between Porter and such scientific luminaries as Carl Sagan, Wernher von Braun, Simon Ramo, Holger Toftoy, Fred Durant III, Edith Goddard and Clyde Tombaugh.
The Porter Collection is arranged both chronologically and alphabetically. Correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, notes, notebooks, speeches, photographs, brochures, pamphlets, programs, magazines, journals, articles, newspaper clippings and miscellaneous materials are organized by the former method. Reports are arranged alphabetically by organizational name while newsletters and papers are grouped alphabetically by title and then chronologically.
The reader should note that the Porter Collection was exposed to a fire in Porter's office sometime during the late 1970s. The fire, along with the subsequent dousing of water from the firefighters, destroyed much of this collection. All that remained are the materials described here. While the surviving materials generally suffered only minor damage (mainly to their original folders), scorch marks can be occasionally observed on some correspondence, speeches, reports, etc.. More serious problems exist with seven folders containing photographs. For conservation purposes, they have been separated from the rest of the photographs in this collection and are currently unavailable to researchers.
The Porter Collection is arranged both chronologically and alphabetically. Correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, notes, notebooks, speeches, photographs, brochures, pamphlets, programs, magazines, journals, articles, newspaper clippings and miscellaneous materials are organized by the former method. Reports are arranged alphabetically by organizational name while newsletters and papers are grouped alphabetically by title.
As an established authority on rockets, GE placed Porter in overall charge of the company's guided missiles department in 1953. By the mid-1950s, his great knowledge in this field also lead to a position as head of a panel of scientists tasked with developing a U.S. space program in time for the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957-58. On February 1, 1958, Porter was given the honor of announcing to reporters that the U.S. had launched its first satellite, Explorer 1, the previous night. The booster employed for this endeavor, an Army Jupiter-C, was designed and built mainly by the German rocket scientists (including their leader, Wernher von Braun) Porter helped to bring to America thirteen years earlier. By this time, GE assigned him as a company-wide consultant. Besides serving as leader of the U.S. IGY effort, he also served on many other boards and panels such as the International Relations Committee of the Space Sciences Board, U.S. National Academy of Science, the U.S. Academy in the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and the U.S. delegation for the U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. During his long career in engineering and aerospace development, Porter was also the recipient of numerous honors and awards. These included the Coffin Award, Goddard Award and the Scientific Achievement Award given by Yale University.
Aside from his career, Porter had a busy personal life. In 1946, he married Edith Wharton Kelly. The couple had two daughters and a son. Porter enjoyed horticulture -- especially growing orchids, as well as skiing and playing the clarinet. He died on October 6, 1996 at the age of 83.
Dr. Porter had a fire that destroyed most of his papers. These six boxes are all that remain.
Susan Porter Beffel and Thomas Andrew Porter, Gift, 1997, 1997-0037, NASM
The collection consists of the transcripts for the Space Astronomy Oral History Project (SAOHP), which examined the early use of rockets and satellites to study the upper atmosphere and space for the period 1946 through the early 1960s. This project constitutes one of several oral history projects conducted within the Department of Space History, NASM. The principal investigator for the SAOHP was David H. DeVorkin, and the interview set contains 225 hours of interviews with 56 individuals. The central thread of this collection is how the availability of new technologies for research, first the rocket and later satellites, helped to create a new social matrix for research. The following were interviewed: Jules Aaron; Ball Brothers; William Baum, William Behring; Jay Bergstrahl; Richard Bleach; William Brunk; Arthur Code; Jerry Conner; Frank Drake; William Fastie; Lorence Fraser; Herbert Friedman; Phyllis Frier; Robert Frosch; George Gianoplis; Thomas Gold; Leo Goldberg; Martin Harwit; Ralph Havens; Albert Hibbs; Noel Hinners; Hans Hinteregger; Charles Johnson; Francis Johnson; Adolph Jursa; Henry Kondracki; Ernst Krause; Alfred Nier; Gerry Neugebauer; Werner Neupert; Ray Newburn; Gordon Newkirk; Edward Ney; Charles O'Dell; William Pickering; Richard Porter; James Purcell; William Rense;Walter Roberts; Nancy Roman; Milton Rosen; Dan Scheiderman; Ronald Schorn; Martin Schwarzschild; Richard Silberstein; John Simpson; Lyman Spitzer; Kaj Strand; Nelson Spencer; John Strong; Gerald Tape; Clyde Tombaugh; Richard Tousey; Mona Tycz; James Van Allen; Gerald Wasserburg; James Webb; James Westphal; Charles Whitsett; Fred Wilshusen; and George Withbroe.
Scope and Contents:
Audio cassettes and transcipts.
The Space Astronomy Oral History Project interviews are arranged alphabetically by interviewee.
This collection contains the interviews for the Space Astronomy Oral History Project. These interviews explore the early use of rockets and satellites over the period 1946 through the early 1960s to investigate the upper atmosphere and space. This project constitutes one of several oral history projects conducted within the National Air and Space Museum's (NASM) Department of Space History. The principal interviewer for this project was David H. DeVorkin and the interview set consists of 225 hours of interviews with 67 individuals. Please note that there are a few instances where audio cassette tapes of the
interview subjects exist but without written transcripts while there are also a few cases of existing transcripts of the interviews without any audio cassette tapes. The following were interviewed for this project: Jules Aaron; Frank Bateson; William Alvin Baum; William Behring; Jay Thor Bergstrahl; Richard Bleach; William E. Brunk; Arthur Dodd Code; Jerry Conner; Fred Dolder; Frank Donald Drake; William G. Fastie; Lorence Fraser; Phyllis Freier; Herbert Friedman; Robert Frosch; Reuben H. Gablehouse; R.A.Gaiser; George Gianopolis; Thomas Gold; Leo Goldberg; Martin Otto Harwit; Ralph Havens; Albert Roach Hibbs; Noel Hinners; Hans Erich Hinteregger; Charles Yothers Johnson; Francis S. Johnson; Adolph Simon Jursa; Jerome Kohl; Henry Kondracki; Ernst Henry Krause; R.C. Mercure; Alfred O. Neir; Gerry Neugebauer; Werner Neupert; Ray Leon Newburn; Gordon Allen Newkirk; Edward P. Ney; Charles Robert O'Dell; William Hayward Pickering; Richard W. Porter; James D. Purcell; William A. Rense; Walter Orr Roberts; Nancy Grace Roman; Milton W. Rosen; Dan Schneiderman; Ronald A. Schorn; Martin Schwarzschild; Richard Silberstein; John Simpson; Nelson W. Spencer; Lyman Spitzer, Jr.; Kaj Strand; John Strong; Gerald Tape; Clyde William Tombaugh; Richard Tousey; Mona Tycz; James Van Allen; Gerald Joseph Wasserburg; James Edwin Webb; James A. Westphal; Charles Edward Whitsett; Fred Wilshusen and George Withbroe.
Space History, NASM, Transfer, 1999, 1999-0034, Varies
The audio cassette tapes of these interviews have yet to be remastered and, due to their fragility, are unavailable to researchers. Transcripts are available to researchers though, there are restrictions placed on a number of them. A NASM staff member will advice the patron which transcripts are available for copying or viewing and how to order copies of transcripts and/or CDs.