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   C.S. (Chien-Shiung) Wu Papers, 1945-1994 [Bulk Dates: 1960-1979]

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); C.S. (Chien-Shiung) Wu Papers; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

At a Glance

Bib ID:4369972 View CLIO record
Title:C.S. (Chien-Shiung) Wu Papers, 1945-1994 [Bulk Dates: 1960-1979]
Physical description:9.42 linear feet (9 record cartons, 1 manuscript box)
Language(s): English, Chinese, and Serbocroatian
Access: All records are open to researchers. This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.  More information »



This collection has been arranged into seven series:

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Scope and Content

The collection consists of speeches, reports, publications, research notes, and correspondence. The bulk of the collection relates to Wu's involvement in the American Physical Society as well as her research activities. The correspondence is chiefly professional, relating to C. S. Wu's physics research, professional commitments, appointments, meetings, conferences, and publications. Correspondence also includes letters from individuals around the world praising Wu for her accomplishments, asking advice, arranging speaking engagements, discussing administrative matters, and trading research notes, as well as information on publications and other topics. In addition, the collection contains information on Wu's involvement in the development of an affirmative action program at Columbia University in the 1970's.

Series I: Correspondence, 1958-1992

This series contains correspondence between C. S. Wu and her colleagues and friends. It includes English language and Chinese language correspondence from all over the world. The letters relate to Wu's research and professional obligations, such as her positions at Columbia University and the American Physical Society. Correspondence with the American Physical Society and Columbia University also appear in Series II and Series IV, respectively. The correspondence was originally separated into a chronological series and an alphabetical series. Those series have been maintained as sub-series and a third sub-series of general correspondence has been added.

Subseries I.1: Chronological, 1964-1992

Correspondence in this series is arranged by year and month.

Subseries I.2: Alphabetical, 1958-1992

Alphabetical correspondence is not only organized by last name, but also by topic, such as "Commencement," "Chicago, University of," and "Proof Reading." In the alphabetical subseries, there is considerable correspondence with Kay Runge of the University of Heidelberg. The folders of "Alphabetical-Moszkowski, Steven A." and "Miscellaneous-John Wiley and Sons" contain correspondence regarding, Beta Decay , a book co-authored by Wu and Moszkowski and published by John Wiley Sons Publishers in 1965. Folder "Miscellaneous-Fan Mail" contains some requests for autographs and photos of Wu, but similar letters can be found throughout the chronological correspondence files as well. The folder of correspondence of Glenn R. Schleede contains a photograph from the White House of President Ford signing the bill to create the Office of Science and Technology Policy in 1976. Folder "Miscellaneous-Job Inquiries Declined" contains letters to and from Wu and other faculty in the Physics Department of Columbia University regarding teaching positions and are arranged alphabetically by surname of the person applying. Similar correspondence can be found throughout the chronological correspondence. The folder "Miscellaneous-Free Circulation of Scientists" focuses on the resolution of that name passed by the International Council of Scientific Unions regarding issues like the Soviet scientists who were being prevented from leaving the country. In a letter dated April 9, 1975, Wu declined an invitation from President McGill to serve on the Ad Hoc Committee of Columbia to study comparative salaries of men and women.

Subseries I.3: General, 1958-1992

This subseries of additional correspondence was added to the existing Chronological and Alphabetical files. It is arranged alphabetically by description.

Series II: American Physical Society (APS), 1962-1982

This series holds material relating to Wu's participation in the American Physical Society (APS), of which she was president during the mid-1970s. The series is divided into six sub-series: Sub-series II.1. Correspondence; Subseries II.2. Meetings; Subseries II.3. Administrative Matters; Subseries II.4. Publications and Reports; Subseries II.5. Awards and Events; and Subseries II.6. Research and Studies.

Subseries II.1: Correspondence, 1962-1978

This subseries contains correspondence on issues of importance to the APS, including persecution of Soviet scientists, committee appointments and decisions, science and physics issues in the federal government, and publications. The correspondence is arranged by subject as well as by individual names, committees and organizations. The folder of correspondence with Karl Darrow includes letters responding to a dispute surrounding an article published in Physical Review in the 1960's, about which Harvard faculty suggested a publishing bias in favor of Columbia University. Some strong language is used in these letters. The two folders of voter correspondence from 1966 reflect Wu's position on the Board of Tellers of the APS when a vote on a new constitution and bylaws sparked controversy. The correspondence in these folders relates to that controversy.

Subseries II.2: Meetings, 1966-1982

This subseries consists of material on the various meetings held by the APS including executive and budget meetings, council meetings, general and annual meetings, and background material for meetings.

Subseries II.3: Administrative Matters, 1968-1976

This subseries contains material regarding administrative matters including governing documents, lists of committee members, fellowship program guidelines, and membership information. Also included are documents on the Committee on Professional Concerns and the Panel on Public Affairs.

Subseries II.4: Publications and Reports, 1964-1972

This subseries consists of publications and reports of the APS. Included are financial and treasurer reports, presidential reports, and Wu's address upon retiring as president of the APS.

Subseries II.5: Awards and Events, 1974-1975

This subseries contains documents relating to awards and events offered by the APS.

Subseries II.6: Research and Studies, 1973-1975

This subseries holds documents on the research and studies performed and proposed by the APS.

Series III: Conferences, 1975-1980

This series consists of papers, notes, and pamphlets from various conferences and symposia in which Wu participated. Wu appeared to have played a major role in the Michael Idvorsky Pupin Symposium in Novi Sad (Serbia) in October, 1979. Included are research materials concerning Pupin and the symposium, Wu's paper on Pupin, "Michael Idvorsky Pupin at Columbia College and His Role in the Rise of Idealism in American Science," and the published papers of the symposium in both Serbo-Croatian and English.

Series IV: Columbia University, 1945-1994

This series contains correspondence, papers, data, articles, teaching materials, and general administrative materials related to Wu's time at Columbia University. Correspondence with Columbia University faculty and administrators is also housed in Series I. Correspondence under both the alphabetical sub-series and the chronological sub-series. The series is divided into three subseries: Subseries IV.1. Affirmative Action; Subseries IV.2. Physics Department; and Subseries IV3. Assorted Materials.

Subseries IV.1: Affirmative Action, 1968-1977

This subseries contains detailed correspondence and collected data on the creation of an affirmative action program at Columbia University. Included are background materials for making decisions on the program, copies of Harvard and Princeton University's affirmative action programs, and documents concerning women at Columbia. Wu was an active member of the President's Faculty Advisory Committee for Affirmative Action and was part of a group of women members of the Committee who decided to form the Women's Caucus, which appears to have been unofficial. The material in the sub-series also contains information on the Commission on the Status of Women along with the Advisory Committee on Affirmative Action, since the two were intertwined.

Subseries IV.2: Physics Department, 1958-1994

This subseries consists of material relating to the Physics Department at Columbia University. Included are reports on trips taken under the auspices of the department, class notes, and teaching materials for some of Wu's courses.

Subseries IV.3: Assorted Materials, 1945-1979

This subseries contains general material relating to Columbia University including administrative guides, equipment orders, job postings sent to Wu from other universities, and travel reports.

Series V. Research, 1948-1985

This series contains reports, papers, research notes, laboratory notebooks, and transparencies of figures relating to physics research Wu was involved in. Also included are articles, papers, and research notes used as reference material by Wu. There is some correspondence with other physicists regarding their research in relation to Wu's. The laboratory notebooks all seem to relate to the work done by Wu and her assistants for the Atomic Energy Commission in the 1940's and 1950's.

Series VI. Speeches and Lectures, 1958-1984

This series includes speeches and lectures by Wu with a few by others. A folder of speeches in Chinese was unlabeled. Of particular note is Dr. Moche's interview with Wu on women in physics.

Series VII. Publications, 1957-1994

This subseries contains articles written by or about Wu, as well as articles, papers, and books written by others. The folder of "Clippings and Press Releases about Wu" contains material spanning much of Wu's career in physics. Also included are articles regarding women, in particular women in science, as well as articles on various aspects of physics. The folder "Publication Lists" contains listings of Wu's various publications throughout the years up to the 1970s. The folder "Reviews of Wu and Moszkowski Book" contains book reviews of Beta Decay.

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Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

 All records are open to researchers. This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); C.S. (Chien-Shiung) Wu Papers; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York

Related Material

Central Files, 1890-2006, , University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Department of Physics Records, 1870-1983, University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Historical Photograph Collection, circa 1858-2007 (David G. Hitlin, Wolfgang Pauli, C.S. Wu), University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Historical Biographical Files, 1750s-2000s (C.S. Wu), University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Historical Subject Files Collection, 1750s-2000s, University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Office of the Provost Records, 1939-2006, University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Archives; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Blueprints (proofs).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Blueprints (proofs).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Drafts (documents).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Examinations (documents).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Financial records.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Laboratory notebooks.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lecture notes.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Photographic prints.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Progress reports.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Schedules (time plans).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Affirmative action programs.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
American Physical Society.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Chinese American women.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
College teachers.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University--Faculty.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.--Department of Physics.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Women physicists--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wu, C. S. (Chien-shiung), 1912-1997.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Chien-Shiung Wu was born in 1912 in a small town near Shanghai, China to Wu Zhongyi, a 1911 revolution participant, and Fan Fu-Hua. Wu attended a private girls' school in China and eventually went to Soochow Girls School, where the curriculum was chiefly Western. She graduated in 1930 and went on to attend Nanjing University, where she studied physics and graduated in 1934. Wu immigrated to the United States in 1936 to seek post-doctoral programs in physics. She attended the University of California at Berkeley and received her Ph.D. in 1940. In 1942, she married Luke Yuan and they moved to the east coast. In 1947, they had a son, Vincent Yuan, who became a research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Wu took a position teaching at Smith College, but left soon after for Princeton. The Division of War Research at Columbia University recruited Wu in 1944 for work at a secret facility in New York for the development of sensitive radiation detectors for the atomic bomb project. Her research included, among other topics, groundbreaking work on beta decay, the irregularity of K-meson decay in particle accelerators, and K-meson's violation of parity. She became a full professor in 1948, and in 1972 Columbia University named Wu the Michael I. Pupin Professor of Physics.

Throughout her career Wu was awarded numerous prizes and honors for her work. She was the first female president of the American Physical Society as well as the first woman to receive the Comstock Award, the Research Corporation Award, and an honorary doctorate in science from Princeton University. She also received the National Medal of Science, the Wolf Prize in Physics and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Wu died on February 16, 1997 in New York.

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