I am looking for a library to donate my space history files


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I am in the process of updating my will, and in the process I am searching for a library or university or archive that would be an appropriate place to leave my space history archives, collected during the past two and a half decades. This archive includes recordings of numerous interviews with Russian and American astronauts and engineers as well as numerous scientists. It also documents quite thoroughly the first half century of the space age.

I had considered giving this archive to the four year university here in Tucson, but it appears they really don’t want it. My last conversation with the head of their special collections was quite hostile, making me wonder if he might have glanced at my webpage and was triggered by it.

If someone has a suggestion, please comment here or email me. My main desire is that this collection should stay intact. I also desire that whichever university or library accepts it also agree to this clause:

It is my request however that these space materials, which cover the history of the first half century of space exploration by someone who witnessed it and thus will be of special interest to future residents not living on Earth, shall be transferred to the first university established on a world other than Earth that is willing to cover the cost for that transfer. Should such transfer occur, the [Earth-bound university/archive] will have the right to retain copies of all materials.

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18 comments

  • wodun

    Digitize what you can and then upload it where you can. It would take a lot of work but if you want the information to be available to the most people, that is the route I would take.

  • SCoop

    You might try Purdue. they are proud of their Aerospace program. Don’t know if it is still true, but when I was there they had produced the most astronauts.

  • wodun

    Was thinking more on this and you might be able to conscript some archaeologists for an effort to digitize the resources. I think the Boy Scouts might have a merit badge for something like this too.

    Even if you found a college to take it all off your hands, you should consider requesting they digitize the collection.

  • Keith

    You might try to talking to Jonathan McDowell to see whether he has arranged anything for his collection.

    What about the GW Space Policy Institute?

  • Jim

    I suggest The Ohio State University (I’m biased as an alumnus). Ohio State has a fine library system with several special collections. Ohio State has a strong connection to John Glenn with the college of public affairs named for him and the state as a whole has a strong connection to astronauts because Neil Armstrong and Jim Lovell were also born in Ohio.

    People from Ohio are very proud of our state, and I think that a collection that documents a national achievement of which Ohioians were very famous contributors would be most welcome in our state’s flagship university.

  • Keith

    How about Cal Tech ?

  • Keith: Right now I have absolutely no interest in sending any of my stuff to California, no matter how good the university.

  • mike shupp

    Arizona State University might be a possibility; it has planetary exploration programs, plus aerospace engineering programs, and a decent reputation, all of which seems a step in the right direction. Northern Arizona University has planetary exploration programs. If you want to move beyond Arizona, both the Smithsonian Institute and the Library of Congress would seem natural homes for a specialized collection.

    But really the best advice I could give would be to ask Roger Launius for suggestions. He’s in more or less the same trade, and he’s probably spent some time contemplating disposing of his books and materials.

  • Bill Simon

    Smithsonian Air & Space Museum?

  • wayne

    Mr. Z;
    I concur with wodun; start digitizing everything you can right now, just to have it in digital format. (That immediately morphs into a Project unto itself.)

    (I’m a ‘hard-copy’ guy myself, but relatively no one is ever going see any of your stuff, especially in the Future, unless it’s digitized, as well as assembled together in a physical archive somewhere.)

    I’d start converting any audio recordings you have, especially if they are on cassette tape (fragile), and work up from the most ‘ephemeral’ physical stuff you have, so at a minimum you lose nothing in the process.

    As for destination-
    Suggest you explore the Internet Archive, for any/all of your stuff. This would require you to upload files yourself but once in their system they will be curated, archived, and downloadable, at no charge to yourself.

    The Archive people will physically scan & convert documents for you, but it’s not cheap. $3 set-up per-item + 10 cents per image.
    https://archive.org/scanning

    Part of the resistance you are encountering is because libraries and Universities want to get rid of physical collections, unless you are truly rich & famous and already have a building on campus named after you.

    Good luck with all this! I’d like to hear more idea’s from everyone.

  • wayne

    FYI– how the Archive folks scan bound printed-matter.
    Internet Archive Scanning Center
    Staff scanning a magazine.
    https://youtu.be/CmONh1F_atk
    0:30

  • Steve Earle

    I agree with Wodun and Wayne that the best way to leave a lasting and accessible legacy will be to digitize all/most of it and create a dedicated website for future students to access. The hard copies can then be stored as backups/original source material.

    Have you tried any museums yet? Throwing out my personal favorite: The Cosmosphere in Hutchinson Kansas. I was there right after they had recovered the Liberty Bell 7 from the ocean floor and were restoring it behind glass so that visitors could watch. Lots of early space history there :-)

    http://cosmo.org/

  • Jwing

    How about seeking the advice of former astronaut Alan Bean?
    He lives in Houston and wonder if Rice University would be interested.
    We have been a patron of his amazing space artwork and he is true gentleman and national hero.

  • Cotour

    I will throw my 2 cents in.

    My suggestion?

    Whom ever agrees to take it must also take your cremated, whole or in part, remains with them and intern you on that planet. That is if you are not going to be secretly buried in one of your favorite caves :)

  • Linda Hall Library; Kansas City, Missouri

    About the Library

    The Linda Hall Library is the world’s foremost independent research library devoted to science, engineering, and technology.

  • wayne

    Mr. Z:
    About how many pages are we talking, reference your accumulation?
    And referencing the Audio you have– what format it is in, currently?
    Have any opinion’s on “crowd-funding?”

    I’m trying to locate some information that might help you along, if I can find it, I’ll drop you an email directly.

  • wodun

    And referencing the Audio you have– what format it is in, currently?

    I haven’t looked recently but there used to be really affordable devices that turn cassette tapes into MP3. That would be a lot less time consuming than taking pictures of all the documents and turning them into PDFs.

    The problem with saving documents as pictures is that it prevents searching them and you can’t format or edit them to publish in different mediums. I am sure there are ways to work around this but it all adds to a cumbersome process.

  • Michael

    Try the Johnson Space Center Library. They already have lots of historical records. They might want to add yours. Also, try contacting the library at Rice University in Houston. Rice has always been involved in various aspects of space research, and that was where Kennedy delivered his Moon in this decade speech, so they might have a strong interest.

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