California Institute of Technology
Welcome to the Caltech Archives


The Caltech Archives
were 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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Images above are from the Caltech Image Archive, an online, searchable database of thousands of images.

In the News

Kuppermann papers collection guide online.
The papers of Professor Aron Kuppermann (1926-2011), a leader in the field of computational chemistry, have been processed, and the searchable collection guide is now available online at the Online Archive of California (OAC). Learn more. 11-6-2015

Richard Ellis Oral History online.
Richard EllisSteele Professor of Astronomy Richard Ellis joined the faculty at Caltech in 1999, where he served as director of Palomar Observatory/Caltech Optical Observatories, carried out pioneering observations at the W. M. Keck Observatories and Hubble Space Telescope, and was centrally involved in still-ongoing efforts to build the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). Read the full interview here. 7-22-2015

Donald Glaser papers received.
Donald Glaser, et al.The Caltech Archives is pleased to announce it has received the papers of Nobel Prize winner Donald Glaser. The papers include Glaser’s work on his award-winning invention of the bubble chamber, which allowed scientists to study subatomic particles.

Donald. A. Glaser, PhD '50 was one of the most innovative and progressive scientists of the 20th century. From his invention of the bubble chamber to his pioneering role in bioengineering and his leading contributions to visual neuroscience, Glaser has advanced many of our most important frontiers of scientific discovery and technological progress.

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Talk of the Archives

Caltech's Centennial
Rose Parade Float

The 1991 Caltech's Centennial float

On January 1, 1991, Caltech kicked off its centennial celebrations with a magnificent and elaborate Rose Parade float entitled "For every action... a reaction."

Befitting Caltech's spirit of daring cleverness, the float featured a Rube-Goldberg device of unmatched complexity, culminating in the proverbial apple being dropped on Isaac Newton's head. The float was circled by nine giant beavers, who energized the crowd and thrilled children.

Many Caltech students helped decorate the float with flowers, while mechanical-engineering majors built and carefully tested the complex computer-controlled machinery. Nevertheless, the computer malfunctioned at show time, leaving the float operators to heroically match actions to reactions by hand.

The 1991 float wowed crowds and impressed commenters, and it is remembered fondly by the alumni, students, faculty, staff, and family members who contributed their inspiration and perspiration to build it.- EP
Visit the online exhibit here.

Posted 12-22-2015

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