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Talk of the Archive

Archives awarded American Institute of Physics Grant to process the Robert and Juliana Christy Papers

Formal portrait of Robert Christy

Physicist Robert F. Christy (1916-2012), undated

In late 2020, Inge-Juliana Sackmann Christy donated the papers of her late husband, Robert F. Christy to the Archives.

Physicist, R.F. Christy was a doctoral student of Los Alamos Laboratory director, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and was personally recruited by Oppenheimer to join the Manhattan Project. In the post–World War II era, Christy moved to Pasadena and joined the Caltech faculty as professor of theoretical physics. During the 1960s he changed his field to astrophysics and studied Cepheid variable stars, in addition to serving in Caltech leadership positions, provost and acting president. He became emeritus faculty in 1986. In the 1970s and 1980s he served on committees related to dosimetry, including the Nuclear Risk Survey Committee.


Inge-Juliana Sackmann and Robert Frederick Christy, undated. Juliana is an astrophysicist and author of Christy's biography, Achieving the Rare: Robert F. Christy's Journey in Physics and Beyond. She has included her papers related to the biography with the donation and she has also indicated her intention to donate more of her personal papers at a later time.


Upon arrival to the archives, a preliminary inventory of the Christys' papers was created to help the archivists determine what preservation needs were required, and began replacing some storage boxes.

The Christys' Papers donated to the Archives


The Christys' Papers after being replaced in storage and archival boxes


It was at this time that the Archives determined that this collection could be a good candidate to apply for the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Niels Bohr Library & Archives Grant for Archives, which assists institutions to make the records, papers, and other primary sources that document the history of modern physics and allied fields accessible. The Archives has received the grant in the past to process the collections of Ronald Drever (2017), Gerald J. Wasserberg (2007), and Murray Gell-Mann (2005).

The Archives has been awarded the AIP Grant for Archives (2021) to process the Robert F. and I.-Juliana Christy Papers. With the funds from this grant, the Archives plans to create an internship program which will support aspiring archivists to gain working experience in processing archival collections as well as provide mentorship. P-NM, February 17, 2022

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