[Findlay, Struve, Heeschen, 1960]
John W. Findlay, Otto Struve, David S. Heeschen, 1960. (NRAO/AUI image)

[David Heeschen, 1962]
David S. Heeschen, 1962. (NRAO/AUI image)

[David Heeschen, 1991]
David S. Heeschen, 1991. (NRAO/AUI image)

[Heeschen playing golf, 1962]
Heeschen playing golf, 1962. (NRAO/AUI image)

[Heeschen, 1995]
Heeschen at the 140ft 30th birthday, 1995. (NRAO/AUI image)

[Heeschen speaking at 140 foot dedication]
Heeschen speaking at 140 ft dedication, October 1965. (NRAO/AUI image)

[Heeschen, 1977]
Heeschen, 1977. (NRAO/AUI image)

[Menon, Heeschen, Anderson, Bok, 1956, on Harvard 60 ft]
Menon, Heeschen, Anderson, Bok, 1956, on Harvard 60 ft. (NRAO/AUI image)

[Lo, Vanden Bout, Roberts, Heeschen, 2007]
Lo, Vanden Bout, Roberts, Heeschen - 4 NRAO Directors at NRAO 50th anniversary symposium, 2007. (NRAO/AUI image)

[Heeschen, October 1986]
Heeschen, October 1986. (NRAO/AUI image)

[Heeschen at VLA dedication, October 1980]
Heeschen at VLA dedication, October 10, 1980. (NRAO/AUI image)

[Heeschen, ca. 1980]
Heeschen, ca. 1980. (NRAO/AUI image)

[Menon, Heeschen, Bok, Harvard, ca. 1955]
Menon, Heeschen, Bok, at Harvard, ca. 1955. (NRAO/AUI image)

[Heeschen at VLA 10th anniversary, October 1990]
Heeschen speaking at VLA 10th anniversary celebration, October 10, 1990. (NRAO/AUI image)

[Heeschen in 1968]
Heeschen in 1968. (NRAO/AUI image)

[Heeschen at NRAO 50th Anniversary Symposium, 2007]
Heeschen at NRAO 50th Anniversary Symposium, June 2007. (NRAO/AUI image)



NATIONAL RADIO ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORY ARCHIVES

Finding Aid to the Papers of David S. Heeschen, 1945-1998

See also the Papers of Woodruff T. Sullivan III, which include a 47 minute oral interview with Heeschen conducted in 1973, and Papers of Kenneth I. Kellermann, which include a series of interviews with Heeschen conducted in 2011.

Contents:

Location of collection: National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Archives, 520 Edgemont Rd., Charlottesville, VA. Phone: 1-434-296-0203, email: archivist at nrao.edu

Title and dates of the collection: Papers of David S. Heeschen, 1945-1998

Size of the collection: 7.5 linear feet.

Papers/Records created by: Heeschen, David S. (1926-2012)

Short description of collection: David S. Heeschen (1926-2012) was a consultant to Associated Universities, Inc., during the planning process for a national radio astronomy facility, and was the third National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) employee, beginning work on 1 July 1956, almost five months before the signing of AUI's formal contract with the National Science Foundation to organize and operate NRAO. Heeschen served as Acting Director from 1961-1962, and was Director from 1962-1978. These papers include material on the founding of NRAO and on NRAO and U.S. radio astronomy history, on Heeschen's work at Harvard University from 1953-1957 with the Radio Astronomy Project, and on his personal scientific research at Harvard and NRAO.

The papers of Dr. Heeschen in his capacities as Acting Director and as Director are included with Director's Office materials in the NRAO institutional records in the Archives.

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Selected search terms:

  • Heeschen, David S., 1926- .
  • National Radio Astronomy Observatory (U.S.)
  • Radio astronomy - History
  • Harvard College Observatory

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Biography: David Sutphin Heeschen was born in Davenport, Iowa, in 1926, received his bachelor and Master of Science degrees from University of Illinois in 1949 and 1951, and his Doctor of Philosophy in Astronomy from Harvard University in 1954. After teaching for a year at Wesleyan University, he returned to Harvard in 1955 as a lecturer and research associate. His work at Harvard was principally in radio astronomy, and he was associated with the Harvard Observatory Radio Astronomy Project from its beginning in 1953 until 1956, helping to set up Harvard's 24 foot and 60 foot telescopes. He was a consultant to Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) during the planning process for a national radio astronomy facility, and was the third National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) employee, beginning work on 1 July 1956, almost five months before the signing of AUI's formal contract with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to organize and operate NRAO. Heeschen served as Chair of the NRAO Astronomy Department, then as NRAO Acting Director from 1961-1962, and as Director from 1962-1978.

Between Heeschen's arrival at NRAO and the end of his time as Director, NRAO grew from an idea and plan to a major world center for radio astronomy. Under his leadership, the 140 foot and 300 foot telescopes and the interferometer were completed in Green Bank, the 36 foot telescope was built in Tucson, and the Very Large Array in New Mexico was planned and designed. By the time he stepped down as Director to resume his own research, VLA construction was nearly finished, successful observations were being made using the completed portion of the array, and planning for the VLBA had begun.

Following his resignation as Director, Heeschen served briefly as Assistant Director for Tucson Operations, Assistant Director for Socorro Operations, and as Acting Project Manager during the initial phases of work on the Green Bank Telescope. He retired from NRAO in December 1991, but continued to pursue his research interests and to advise on NRAO projects.

Heeschen's thesis work at Harvard was on galactic hydrogen, and he made the first observation of HI emission from clusters of galaxies in 1954. In 1956 he and Frank D. Drake made the first study of HI in a star cluster. He studied radio source spectra and source variability, and his early work provided the basis for the calibration of flux density scales at centimeter and decimeter wavelengths. He was the first to recognize the relation between radio luminosity and spectral index for radio galaxies, and he discovered the daily variation in compact radio sources known as "flicker."

Outside astronomy, Heeschen was a long-time amateur radio operator, an avid sailor, and a sports car enthusiast. In a film on radio astronomy produced in 1967 by the American Astronomical Society, he is shown in Green Bank driving Morton S. Roberts, who later succeeded him ast NRAO Director, to a telescope in a green (officially British Racing Green) Jaguar.

Dr. Heeschen was a member of the American Astronomical Society, where he served as President from 1980-1982, a member of the International Astronomical Union, where he served as a Vice President and member of the Executive Committee from 1976-1981, and of the International Scientific Radio Union, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences. He served on numerous advisory committees to international, federal, and private organizations, and on the astronomy Decadal Review committees for the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. He received the 1980 NSF Distinguished Public Service award, the 1985 Alexander von Humbolt Distinguished Senior Scientist Award, and was NRAO's 1993 Jansky Lecturer.

Heeschen died on 13 April 2012.

[Biographical note written by Ellen N. Bouton, with additions and corrections by David S. Heeschen.]

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Accession history: Materials on NRAO history and notes for his talks on that history were donated to the Archives by Dr. Heeschen in March 2003. He donated an additional group of materials, including correspondence, committee files, and photographs, in May 2007. His early scientific research materials had been in an NRAO storage area for many years and were moved to the Archives when that storage area was emptied in 2006.

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Access to collection: No restrictions. The Archives are open part-time; contact the Archivist for appointment.

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Restrictions on use of collection: None.

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Publication rights: Copyright has been assigned to The National Radio Astronomy Observatory. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archivist.

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Preferred citation: [Identification of item, box, and file], Papers of David S. Heeschen. Archives, National Radio Astronomy Observatory / Associated Universities, Inc. / National Science Foundation. After the initial citation, abbreviations may be used: D.S. Heeschen Papers, NRAO Archives, NRAO/AUI/NSF.

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Processing notes: Arrangement, description, indexing, foldering and boxing of the initial group of material was done in early 2006, and a second group of material was received in May 2007. In 2010, the collection was completely reorganized to better integrate the differing types of materials that comprised the two donations from Heeschen, and to incorporate Heeschen's early scientific research materials that had been in an NRAO storage area. During the processing, photocopies were made to replace thermofax sheets and newspaper clippings, and fasteners were removed.

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Scope and Contents of Collection

Correspondence Series: This series includes correspondence from 1954-1993. Early correspondence discusses Heeschen's work at Harvard, early association with AUI/NRAO, move to Green Bank, and preliminary planning for NRAO. Later correspondence, buth during and after his time as Director, is generally about speaking engagements, participation in committee and advisory group work, and other non-official matters. Heeschen's correspondence in his capacities as Acting Director and as Director are included with Director's office materials in the Records of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Size: 0.5 linear feet.

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Subject Files Series: This series includes general subject files dated 1971-1991 (with one folder dated 1949). Material is primarily related to Heeschen's work on non-NRAO committees, as American Astronomical Society president, and as a member of a delegation visiting China in 1977. Size: 0.5 linear feet. Click here for a listing of general subject folders, or use the NRAO Archives online catalog to search for specific items or across multiple series/collections.

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Radio Astronomy History Series: This series has been divided into five units:

  • Harvard University Astronomy Unit: This unit includes correspondence, notes, diagrams, reports, photographs, and drawings dated 1953-1957 related to Harvard's Radio Astronomy Program and Heeschen's involvement in it, including photos of the 24 foot telescope construction and photos and other materials on construction and testing of the 60 foot George R. Agassiz radio telescope. Size: 0.5 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders, or use the NRAO Archives online catalog to search for specific items or across multiple series/collections.

  • National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) Unit: This unit includes correspondence, notes, reports, and other materials dated 1954-1993, with the bulk of the material dated 1954-1959. Topics include background material on NRAO, founding and early history of NRAO, design, construction and testing of the 140 foot and 85 foot telescopes, masers, radio astronomy from space, the Green Bank Telescope, and other topics. Files are alphabetical by folder title. Some of the photocopied materials in Heeschen's files appear to be copies made from the NRAO Director's office files, and therefore may be duplicates of material found in that collection. Size: 1.0 linear feet. Click here for an item listing, or use the NRAO Archives online catalog to search for specific items or across multiple series/collections. Related materials: See the NRAO Founding and Organization Series, the 85 Foot Telescope Unit, and the 140 Foot Telescope Unit in the Records of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

  • Committee Minutes Unit: This unit contains photocopies of selected minutes of the Steering Committee for the Radio Astronomy Facility Study, the AUI Radio Astronomy Advisory Committee, the NSF Advisory Panel on Radio Astronomy, the Special Ad Hoc Committee for 140-foot Equatorial Telescope Design, the AUI Trustees Executive Committee, and other miscellaneous meetings related to 140 foot telescope construction. Copies of the minutes from the AUI Trustees Executive Committee are only of the first page, giving date and attendees, and of the pages about the 140 foot telescope. Material is dated 1955-1961. Size: 2 folders.

  • Malphrus Dissertation Unit: This unit contains 1991 correspondence and photocopies from 1964 NRAO Quarterly Reports, and is related to Heeschen's and Mark A. Gordon's concerns about treatment of NRAO's 36 foot telescope history in Benjamin A. Malphrus' doctoral dissertation, "History of Radio Astronomy and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory: Evolution Toward Big Science" (Dept. of Physical Sciences, Morehead State University, 1990). Size: 1 folder.

  • U.S. Radio Astronomy History Unit: This unit contains notes, tables, figures, and other materials on U.S. radio astronomy history, as well as materials on NRAO history. The unit has been divided into three subunits:
    • U.S. Radio Astronomy Funding Subunit: This subunit includes notes and figures on both federal (NSF, NASA, DoD) and university funding of radio astronomy dated 1952-1992. Size: 1 folder.

    • U.S. Radio Astronomy Institutions Subunit: This subunit contains a table of information about U.S. radio astronomy observatories, chronology of institutions, and descriptive notes. Undated material; content covers a period from 1946-1993. Size: 1 folder.

    • Talks on U.S. Radio Astronomy History Subunit: This subunit contains materials dated 1956-1998 for Heeschen's talks on U.S. radio astronomy history, on NRAO, and on specific NRAO instruments. In some cases there are copies of the talks and viewgraphs, in other cases there notes and preparatory material only. Some material is dated and related to a specific identifiable talk, other material is undated and for an unspecified audience and venue. Size: 3 folders. Click here for an itemized listing, or use the NRAO Archives online catalog to search for specific items or across multiple series/collections.

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Scientific Research Series: This series includes materials on Heeschen's radio astsronomy research, and has been divided into four units:

  • Working Notebooks Unit: This unit includes Heeschen's working notebooks for the period 1955-1961, with notes and observational data from Harvard and from NRAO, as well as one notebook for the period 19 May 1961 - 11 October 1961 containing notes on discussions about issues with the 140 foot telescope construction. Size: 1.0 linear feet

  • Hydrogen Research Unit: This unit includes materials dated 1952-1960 related to Heeschen's research projects on galactic and extragalactic hydrogen. Included are notes, calculations, plots, observing logs, and drafts of papers. Size: 1.0 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders, or use the NRAO Archives online catalog to search for specific items or across multiple series/collections.

  • Discrete Sources Research Unit: This unit includes materials dated 1959-1963 related to Heeschen's research projects on discrete sources. Included are notes, calculations, plots, observing logs, and drafts of papers. Size: 1.5 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders, or use the NRAO Archives online catalog to search for specific items or across multiple series/collections. Related Material: See also materials in the Elliptical Galaxies Research Unit below, as some of the same sources were observed for both research projects.

  • Elliptical Galaxies Research Unit: This unit includes materials dated 1967-1969 related to Heeschen's research projects on elliptical galaxies. Included are notes, calculations, plots, and observing logs. Size: 0.5 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders, or use the NRAO Archives online catalog to search for specific items or across multiple series/collections. Related Material: See also materials in the Discrete Sources Research Unit above, as some of the same sources were observed for both research projects.

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Collected Publications Series: This series contains copies of preprints, reports, and published articles dated 1945-1987 retained by Heeschen. Size: 0.25 linear feet. Click here for an item listing, or use the NRAO Archives online catalog to search for specific items or across multiple series/collections.

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Photographs Series: This series contains photographs dated 1956-1990 collected by Heeschen, including photographs of NRAO people and events as well as photographs taken elsewhere. Size: 0.25 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders, or use the NRAO Archives online catalog to search for specific items or across multiple series/collections. Related Material: See also photos of the Harvard 24 and 60 foot telescopes in the Harvard University Astronomy Unit above.

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Additional Materials about Heeschen: These materials are about Heeschen but were not created or collected by him. Included are obituaries, talks from his memoral service, biographical material from his family, and photographs. Size: 0.25 linear feet.


Modified on Wednesday, 12-Mar-2014 09:50:28 EDT by Ellen Bouton, Archivist (Questions or feedback)