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Historical Materials

This web page serves as a gateway to materials documenting the history of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The sources of these materials are diverse and include internal LBNL organizations (Records Management Office, Publications Office, Photo Lab) as well as external entities that have a long tradition of association with the Lab (University of California libraries including The Bancroft Library and the American Institute of Physics). The historical materials accessible from the links on this web page were inventoried under the auspices of the Information Technology Division and the Directorate with the following goals:

  • Build and maintain a catalog / high-level finding-aid for historically significant resources at LBNL.
  • Work with the Records Management and Public Affairs teams to identify resources of historical significance and characterize their state.
  • Work with Directorate and IT leadership to identify potential projects and activities which build on and draw from these historical resources.
  • Propose prioritization and preservation strategies based on input from Directorate and IT leadership
  • Coordinate with peers on Berkeley Campus and at organizations like AIP to catalog and present historical resources of relevance to the Laboratory.

This web page and the materials it provides access to is a work in progress and input from Lab employees on additional materials for inclusion would be very much appreciated. Please contact the LBNL Library at [email protected].


Records Management Office (RMO)

LBNL’s RMO  is committed to managing records that document the Laboratory’s work and history. The office works in close cooperation with the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA’s) Pacific Region (San Francisco) facilities in San Bruno to preserve, maintain, and provide access to laboratory records.  Click here to connect to a select list of historical records managed by RMO.


American Institute of Physics (AIP)

LBNL’s ARO provides select cataloging records for historically significant records to the Niels Bohr Library & Archives at the AIP for inclusion in their International Catalog of Sources (ICOS).  The Niels Bohr Library & Archives is a repository and clearinghouse for information in the history of physics, astronomy, geophysics and allied fields.  ICOS documents 10,000 collections from over 900 repositories worldwide.  Click here to connect to a list of 36 accessions (collections) of records for which ARO has provided cataloging records to ICOS.


Publications Office

LBNL’s Publications Office maintains a collection of historical scientific and technical documents published by LBNL which are available as open access.  To see all documents published by LBNL go to either DOE’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) or the California Digital Library’s eScholarship collection.  Go here to see the selected results of several history-related searches of the eScholarship collection.


Photo Lab Archives

The Photo Lab Archives collection contains photographs that provide visual documentation of LBNL dating back to the 1930’s and include photographs of individuals, facilities, equipment, and events.  The majority of these photographs are composed of 4×5 inch black and white and color negatives.  Click here to access the historical folder from the LBNL Photo Archives that contains historical photographs, including those that were scanned and sent to the National Archives (NARA) for inclusion in their online catalog.


Bancroft Library and University of California Berkeley Libraries

  • The Bancroft Library  is the primary special collections library at the University of California, Berkeley, containing manuscripts, rare books, exhibits and other unique materials.  Collections of special relevance to the history of LBNL are the History of Science and Technology and the Oral History Center.
    • A 2006 exhibit entitled “Breaking Through:  A Century of Physics at Berkeley” contains several sections on the history of LBNL (then known as the Radiation Laboratory). See Exhibition Checklist for site’s historical sources.
    • Oral History Center.  In 1954, the Regional Oral History Office was established to conduct interviews with leading citizens of the West. In 2014 it became the Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library. The office has conducted 4,000 interviews, including a number with LBNL researchers and administrators. The majority of these interviews have been transcribed and made available online.
    • LBNL Oral History Interviews links to a page listing interviews with LBNL researchers and administrators.  Where available the listings link to online interview transcriptions.


LBNL Web Sites

This index of history-related LBNL web sites contains a number of additional historical web pages authored by several of LBNL’s Research Areas and Divisions.  Click here to access the index.  This list is a work in progress and we invite users to let us know about any other online historical resources within the LBNL domain by contacting the LBNL Library at [email protected].


LBNL Publications

The Magnet was the LBNL employee publication which was inaugurated by Ernest O. Lawrence in November 1957.  Over the intervening years, a number of lab-wide employee publications have followed The Magnet.  In addition to the lab-wide employee publications there have been a number of general publications such as The Research Review, as well as newsletters geared towards individual organizations at the Lab (divisions, departments, and groups). As part of the LBNL History Project, issues of available publications have been scanned and made available online.  In addition, those general publications that were already online as HTML documents have been identified and curated under this site.  For individual organizations’ newsletters maintained by their respective organizations, this site links out to them.  Links to all of these kinds of publications can be found here.


LBNL Library

The LBNL Library contains a number of historical print materials (Lab newspapers and magazines) as well as published historical studies.  Click here to access a curated annotated list of materials, most of which are available through UC Library Search.  Also cataloged in UC Library Search is the Library’s DVD collection.  To find the DVD catalog records in UC Library Search, follow these instructions:

For access to the Library’s DVD collection go here.


Organization Charts

Much of the history of LBNL can be traced through the changes that have occurred over time in the organization of the Laboratory.  These changes are documented in organization charts that have been collected over time by the LBNL Archives and Records Office.  As part of the History Project these org charts were scanned and posted online.  The charts fall into four main categories:

  • Comprehensive lab-wide charts accompanied by divisional charts which drill down to the department and sometimes the group level are available here.
  • Single-paged top-level lab-wide charts are here.
  • Multi-paged charts for divisions or departments can be found here.
  • Single-paged charts for division or departments are here.

These org charts dates back to 1943.


In Memoriam

Obituaries often provide insight into the history of the Lab through their details on the careers of LBNL employees.  Go here for links to obituaries of LBNL staff published online by either LBNL or University of California (UC) (for those individuals with joint appointments).