|The Caltech Archives
was formally established in 1968 to serve as the collective memory of the California Institute of Technology. Our mission is to preserve and make accessible the institutional records, personal papers, documents, artifacts and pictorial materials that tell the school's history.
The Archives' unique research collections in the history of science and technology range from the time of Copernicus to today. They are available to the campus community for instructional and research purposes, as well as to qualified non-campus users by appointment.
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In the News
The Mind's Eye: Richard Feynman in Word and Image
A Caltech Archives special exhibition on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Richard Feynman's birth.
Additional information here.
Jerome Pine oral history online
Read our interview with Jerome Pine (1928-2017), neuroscientist and physics professor in the Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy.
6 Legacy Oral Histories
Richard H. MacNeal (Electrical engineering)
H. Victor Neher (Physics)
David S. Saxon (Astronomy)
Apollo M. O. Smith (Mechanical engineering; Aeronautics)
Hallet D. Smith (History)
Robert L. Walker (Physics)
Carver Mead's video
on the story
of the realization of his
'First Chip' is online!
Learn more here. Posted 10-23-2017
In The News archive
Talk of the Archives
Ditch Day: Caltech's Zany Brainy Olympics
Descending from Firestone with a motorbike
Visitors to Caltech are usually struck by the quiet of its campus; if they chance on the right day of the year, though, they will witness the most unusual scenes: students wrestling with dismantled cars, climbing buildings, hammering doors, and drilling through concrete.
On "Ditch Day", toward the end of Spring Term, all Seniors ditch their classes and disappear from campus (Seniors found on campus are often tied to a tree). They leave their dormitory rooms locked with clever, painstakingly wrought Rube Goldberg-style puzzles ("stacks") that their underclassmates must solve to enter the rooms. It’s a battle of brains: high-tech devices and cerebral procedures. There are three types of stacks, requiring different approaches to the final break-in: brute force, finesse, or honor (the room is left open but cannot be entered until a puzzle is solved). Inside the rooms are bribes; if the underclassmen are not satisfied, they may booby-trap the lodgings, and it is the Seniors’ turn to use their wits. The exact date of Ditch Day is kept secret until the very last moment, but when it is on, everybody is sure to notice!
Here is a gallery of candid Ditch Day moments from our collection.
previous "Talk of the Archives"