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Oral History
Margaret Lauritsen Leighton Oral History Interview with Shelley Erwin

Margaret was married to, first, Thomas Lauritsen, and after his death in 1973, to Robert B. Leighton. Her oral history is principly a reminiscence of the Lauritsen family, including her husband, Thomas, and his father, Charles Christian Lauritsen (both physicists at Caltech). For further information, see her profile, as well as the profiles of both of her husbands and her father-in-law.
Abstract: An interview in three sessions, in May and June 1995, with Margaret Lauritsen Leighton, wife of Thomas Lauritsen (d. 1973) and later of Robert B. Leighton (d. 1997), both professors of physics in the Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy. She begins by discussing Thomas Lauritsen’s friendship with the family of Niels and Margrethe Bohr while he was a postdoc in Copenhagen, 1939-40; his marriage to Else Chievitz; and their flight back to the United States when war broke out. She recalls her WAC service in World War II; her marriage to Tommy two years after Else’s death; the family background in Denmark of her father-in-law, Charles C. Lauritsen; his marriage to Sigrid Henriksen; their eventual immigration to the United States; and his arrival at Caltech in 1926. Other topics include Lauritsen family lore; Tommy’s early education and working relationship with his father; his mother Sigrid’s medical career and strong personality; sabbatical visits to Denmark with Tommy in 1952-53 and 1963-64; their friendship with Aage and Marietta Bohr; Friday night post-seminar parties at the C. C. Lauritsen home for his group at the W. K. Kellogg Radiation Laboratory; the advent of Caltech president Lee A. and Doris Dubridge; Margaret’s incompatibility with the Caltech Women’s Club; her work for the Democratic Party and SANE (the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy); Tommy Lauritsen’s illness and death; and their friendship with Fay Ajzenberg-Selove.


ID: 1999-00187
Lauritsen, Charles Christian (Nuclear Physicist) Lauritsen, Thomas (Nuclear Physicist)
Leighton, Margaret

Creation May. 11, 1995 through Jun. 23, 1995

LENGTH: 54 pages

Topics: Physics, Women

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