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Wald, George. Papers of George Wald, 1927-1997 : an inventory

Harvard University Archives


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUGFP 143
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Title: Papers of George Wald
Date(s): 1927-1997
Quantity: 49.95 cubic feet (149 boxes)
Quantity: Extent is approximate.
Language of materials: English
Abstract: George David Wald, 1906-1997, was a Nobel Prize-winning biologist, Higgins Professor of Biology at Harvard University, and a promoter of progressive political and social causes. These papers document both his life as a scientist and his life as a social activist.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

  • Accession number: 13671 1997 October 29
  • Processing Information:

    Processed by Marco Packard, Dana Lanier,Keith Anderson, Rachel D'Agostino, and Kate Bowers June 1998-June 2000 at the Harvard University Archives. Processing consisted of a collection survey and creation of a series and subseries hierarchy, folder lists, and this inventory. Physical processing consisted of transferring material into archivally appropriate containers.
    Staff also removed duplicate materials and monographs not written by Wald

    Conditions on Use and Access:

    Curatorial permission is required for viewing and photocopying material in the collection. Additional permissions are required for publication of quotations from the collection until December 3, 2047. Consult with the reference staff of the Harvard University Archives for details.
    The Papers of George Wald are stored off-site. Please consult the Harvard University Archives Reference
    Department for information about retrieval of material.

    Preferred Citation:

    Wald, George. Papers of George Wald, 1927-1997. HUGFP 143, Harvard University Archives.

    Biography of George Wald

    Wald's great curiosity, which led to his success as a research scientist, also inspired him to explore his own consciousness and philosophy of life. These explorations led to a popular lecture entitled "Life and Mind", which he published in a variety of formats. Wald spoke on subjects such as "The Origin of Death," "Consciousness," and "Cosmology."
    As an outspoken opponent of nuclear energy, Wald lobbied in the United States and internationally for nuclear arms reduction and non-reliance on nuclear power. He worked to move research on recombinant DNA away from Cambridge because of the possibility of contamination in the community. He was part of the Basso Tribunal on Human Rights, and served as an observer for its Tribunal on Guatemala and other countries. During the hostage crisis in 1980 he participated in the "Crimes Against Iran" conference in Tehran. Until his death at the age of 90 on April 12, 1997, George Wald remained an advocate for progressive social and political causes.


    Series and Sub-series in the Collection

    Scope and Content of the Papers of George Wald

    These papers document the public life of George Wald, including his work as a scientist and his efforts as a prominent social activist. As such, the papers document the field of vision science and liberal American politics, especially the era of the late 1960s to early 1970s. Political topics of note are anti-Vietnam War activism, human rights, poverty, civil rights, and pollution.
    All researchers will find material of interest in the Correspondence Series and Writings Series. Researchers interested in Wald's scientific career should examine the Scientific Research Series and Teaching Series. Researchers concerned with Wald's social activism will find the Science and Society Series and Politics Series of particular interest.
    Chronologically, the papers cover Wald's adult life; the earliest material dates from his college years and the latest from the 1990s. Material consists of many formats: correspondence, manuscripts, publications, notebooks, note cards, photographs, video, and audio tapes.

    Inventory update

    This document last updated 2018 June 20.

    Container List