Eugene I. Rabinowitch Papers, 1923-1973
- Russian-born chemist and SUNY Albany professor who worked on the Manhattan Project, was an early leader of the Concerned Scientists Movement, and helped organize the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. The Rabinowitch Papers document various aspects of his life and career and contain his writings, his involvement with the Pugwash Conferences and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, his research interests in photosynthesis, and his work at the University of Illinois and the State University of New York at Albany.
- 14 cubic ft.
- German , English .
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Eugene I. Rabinowitch Papers, 1923-1973. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Rabinowitch Papers.
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to this record group is unrestricted.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
- Scope and Content:
The Eugene I. Rabinowitch Papers, 1923-1973, document various aspects of the life and career of Rabinowitch. The papers concern his writings, his involvement with the Pugwash Conferences and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, his research interests in photosynthesis, and his work at the University of Illinois and the State University of New York at Albany.
The papers date primarily from 1968 to 1972 when Rabinowitch was a member of the faculty at the State University of New York at Albany. A small amount of earlier material concerns Rabinowitch's writings and his editorship of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The researcher is also referred to collections of Rabinowitch papers held by the University of Illinois Archives and the University of Chicago Library. In addition, please see the papers of the Center for the Study of Science and Society, also held by the SUNYA University Archives.
- Biographical / Historical:
Eugene I. Rabinowitch was born on April 27, 1901 at St. Petersburg, Russia, the son of Isaac and Zinaida (Weinlud) Rabinowitch. In 1921 Isaac Rabinowitch, a lawyer, moved his family to Berlin to escape the Russian persecution of Jews. Eugene Rabinowitch attended the University of Berlin, earning there his doctorate in chemistry in 1926. After serving as an assistant in physical chemistry at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, Rabinowitch went to the University of Göttingen where he was a research associate in physics from 1929 to 1933. With the rise of the Nazi Party in the early 1930s, Jews, such as Rabinowitch, were expelled from their university posts. With the loss of his fellowship Rabinowitch was forced to leave Germany.
Rabinowitch with his wife, Anya Mejerson, whom he married on March 12, 1932, went first to Copenhagen to work with Neils Bohr at the Institute of Theoretical Physics. From here Rabinowitch moved to London to work with F. G. Donnan at University College. Rabinowitch remained in London from 1934 to 1938. It was here that his twin sons, Alexander and Victor, were born on August 30, 1934.
In 1938 Rabinowitch was invited to the United States to lecture. This resulted in the offer of a position with the Cabot Solar Energy Research Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rabinowitch was at MIT from 1939 to 1944, when James Franck, a former colleague from Göttingen, invited him to come to Chicago. In Chicago Rabinowitch joined Franck and several other distinguished scientists at what was being called the Metallurgical Laboratory. This was in reality one of the principal research centers of the Manhattan Project. Rabinowitch worked with the Project from 1944 until its completion in 1946, serving as senior chemist and section chief of the Metallurgical Laboratory's Information Division.
In June 1945 Rabinowitch and physicist Leo Szilard authored a memorandum, which became known as the Franck Report. The memorandum, which argued against the military use of the atomic bomb, was signed by seven Metallurgical Laboratory scientists led by Franck and was personally carried by Franck to the government in Washington, D. C. Although it did not persuade the United States government to refrain from use of the atomic bomb without prior demonstration of its capabilities, the Franck Report is one of the earliest statements of the Concerned Scientists Movement of the 1940s and 1950s. This Movement, which marshalled the talent and dedication of several of the scientists who had worked on the atomic bomb, was born out of the scientists' conviction that the scientific community had a right, if not a duty, to speak out on the new and complicated policy issues of the nuclear age. Joined by many colleagues who had not worked on the atomic bomb but who shared their concern, these scientists worked to educate the American public and government about the significance of atomic power. Rabinowitch was an early leader in both the Movement and the educational effort, co-founding with Hyman Goldsmith the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. As the editor-in-chief for more than twenty years Rabinowitch maintained the Bulletin's quality and independence as a forum for discussion of scientific issues with social and political implications. As such it reflected Rabinowitch's belief in the importance of keeping the scientific community informed about the impact on society of the twentieth century scientific and technological revolution in which it played a significant part.
In addition to his work on the Bulletin and his participation in organizations of the Scientist's Movement, Rabinowitch continued to teach, to write, and to pursue his research interests in the field of photosynthesis. His seminal scientific work, Photosynthesis and Related Processes, was published in three parts between 1945 and 1956 and was supplemented by numerous articles on the topic. In 1947 Rabinowitch joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana as a research professor of botany. Helping to organize the University's Photosynthesis Research Laboratory, he then served as its director. From 1966 to 1968 he was also a member of the University's Center for Advanced Studies.
Rabinowitch's interest in public policy and political affairs was demonstrated in 1955, when he helped to organize the international forum, which became known as the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Initiated in response to increasing world tension, the Pugwash Conferences grew out of the hopes of many distinguished scientists that war could be eliminated as an instrument of foreign policy. The Russell-Einstein Manifesto, calling for the peaceful discussion of scientific issues in an apolitical arena, sparked the convening of the first Pugwash meeting in 1957. Named for the site of the first conference, Pugwash, Nova Scotia, the international meetings provide natural and social scientists with the opportunity to discuss policy issues with their colleagues from around the world. Rabinowitch, a founder of the organization, served as a member of the International Continuing Committee of Pugwash from 1957 to 1973 and was president of the movement from 1969 to 1970.
In 1968 Rabinowitch retired from the University of Illinois and took a position with the State University of New York at Albany as professor of biology and chemistry and as senior advisor to the newly-established Center for Science and the Future of Human Affairs (later called the Center for the Study of Science and Society). Rabinowitch was the guiding force behind the new Center working to obtain funds for it and establishing goals and objectives for it. The Center was to reflect Rabinowitch's own concerns with the way in which science and technology impacted on society. Rabinowitch's son, Victor, was director of the Center from 1968 to 1970. Following Victor's resignation, Eugene Rabinowitch served as acting director from March to September 1970. Rabinowitch retired from SUNY at Albany on August 31, 1972 and was immediately reappointed as a visiting professor for the 1972/1973 school year. At this time Rabinowitch was given a leave of absence from the University in order to accept a fellowship with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institute. While in Washington, he continued to write, edit the Bulletin, and participate in Pugwash. Eugen I. Rabinowitch died on May 15, 1973 at Washington, D. C., at the age of seventy-two.
Books by Rabinowitch:
1928 Rare Gases
1930 Periodic System
1945 Photosynthesis and Related Processes, Volume I
1950 Minutes to Midnight, editor
1950 Photosynthesis and Related Processes, Volume II, Part I
1951 The Chemistry of Uranium, with J. J. Katz
1956 Photosynthesis and Related Processes, Volume II, Part II
1963 The Atomic Age, edited with Morton Grodzins
1964 The Dawn of a New Age
1964 Spectroscopy and Photochemistry of Uranyl Compounds, with.R. Linn Belford
1969 Mau on the Moon, edited with Richard Lewis
1969 Photosynthesis, with Govindjee
1975 Views of Science, Technology and Development, edited with Victor Rabinowitch
Awards Received by Rabinowitch:
1955 Guggenheim Fellowship
1960 D.H. L., Brandeis University (honorary)
1964 Dr. Sci., Dartmouth College (honorary)
1966 Kalinga Prize, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (for popularization of science)
1967 Columbia College, Chicago
1970 Dr. Sci., Alma College, Michigan
1972 American Academy of Arts and Sciences (award for promotion of international cooperation among scientists)
1972 Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Fellowship
- Acquisition information:
All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, in 1981 by Dr. Victor Rabinowitch, son of Dr. Eugene Rabinowitch.
The collection is organized into seven series.
- Processing information:
Processed in 1984 by Alice K. Titus.