History

International Geophysics Year

Following a suggestion by NAS member Lloyd Berkner, the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) in 1952 proposed a comprehensive series of global geophysical activities to span the period July 1957-December 1958. The International Geophysical Year (IGY), as it was called, was timed to coincide with the high point of the eleven-year cycle of sunspot activity. In March of 1953, the NAS appointed a US National Committee to oversee US participation in the IGY. The US program included investigations of aurora and airglow, cosmic rays, geomagnetism, glaciology, gravity, the ionosphere, determinations of longitude and latitude, meteorology, oceanography, seismology, solar activity, and the upper atmosphere. In connection with upper atmosphere research, the US undertook to develop an orbiting satellite program. It was from the IGY rocket and satellite research that the US developed its space program. The International Geophysical Year collection contains correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, photographs, and other records documenting the programs and activities of the US National Committee for the IGY. The collection covers the years 1953-1962 and spans approximately 152 linear feet.

IGY Records Group Series

Series 1: US National Committee. Contains records documenting the organization and activities of the USNC for the IGY. Includes correspondence, background documents, and meeting agendas and minutes.

Series 2: USNC Executive Committee. Series contains records documenting activities of USNC Executive Committee. Includes correspondence as well as meeting agendas, background documents, and minutes.

Series 3: Program Office. This series documents the activities of the IGY Program Office. Series includes memoranda, meeting items, and correspondence.

Series 4: Technical Panels Meeting Minutes. Series contains minutes of meetings of IGY technical panels.

Series 5: Technical Panels Correspondence & Projects. Series contains correspondence, memos, reports, and other materials documenting activities of USNC Technical Panels.

Series 6: Earth Satellite Program. Series contains records documenting aspects of the US IGY Earth Satellite program, including projects Vanguard and Explorer, and experiments undertaken and proposed. Also documented is the establishment of the NAS-NRC Space Science Board. Series contains correspondence and reports.

Series 7: IGY Termination & Follow-on. Series contains records documenting final phases of IGY, including programs and activities proposed in continuation of IGY work. Included in series are records documenting beginning of NAS Geophysics Research Board and International Geophysical Cooperation-59 (IGC-59).

Series 8: World Data Centers & Data Processing. Series contains correspondence, memoranda, reports, and meeting minutes pertaining to the organization and policies of the IGY World Data Centers and the USNC Committee on Data Processing.

Series 9: Regional Programs. Series contains correspondence, draft reports, diary extracts, and photographs pertaining to the IGY Antarctic and Arctic regional programs.

Series 10: CSAGI International. Series contains records of CSAGI conferences, assemblies, missions, and national reports. Includes files for individual countries participating in IGY.

Series 11: Symposia. Series contains correspondence, drafts, programs, and other items pertaining to IGY-related symposia.

Series 12: IGY Office of Information. Series contains records of the IGY Office of Information. Includes correspondence, press releases, news clippings, and photographs.

Series 13: IGY COMPLEX

Series 14: Photographs. Contains photographs of various IGY activities. Many photographs under “Historical” subhead appeared in various publications. Note that some numbered photographs are missing.

Series 15: Maps, Diagrams, and Charts. Series contains photographs, graphics, and other items documenting IGY organization, activities locations, and stations.

Series 16: USNC Member Files. Series contains papers of the following members of the USNC for the IGY: Joseph Kaplan, Chairman; Richard W. Porter, Chairman of the Technical Panel on the Earth Satellite Program (TPESP); Waldo Smith, Editor of the Transactions of the American Geophysical Union; Homer E. Newell, Jr., Technical Panel on Rocketry; and A. H. Shapley, Vice-Chairman. Series consists of correspondence, memoranda, printed matter, and other materials. Note regarding the Porter files: most of Richard Porter’s files were originally labeled 16A through 16K, with no other description of the contents. Whenever feasible, descriptions reflecting these folders’ contents have been added by the archivist organizing the collection; extremely large folders have been broken out by date or subject matter.

Series 17: Finance & Budget. Series contains budget estimates, Congressional testimony, project proposals, and other papers pertaining to the financing of the IGY.

Series 18: Reports & Reprints. Series contains various reprints and reports. Items originally were part of NAS Central Report File and thus are described according to old NAS records coding system.

IGY "Planet Earth" Posters

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