[Mort Roberts, 1964]
Roberts, 1964 (NRAO/AUI/NSF image)

[Mort Roberts, 1969]
Roberts, 1969 (NRAO/AUI/NSF image)

[Mort Roberts, 1969]
Roberts with the 300 foot, 1969 (NRAO/AUI/NSF image)

[Roberts with the 140 foot, 1969]
Roberts with the 140 foot, 1969 (NRAO/AUI/NSF image)

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

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

[Roberts, 1978]
Roberts, 1978. (NRAO/AUI/NSF image)

[Roberts at NRAO 50th anniversary symposium, 2007]
Roberts at NRAO 50th anniversary symposium, 2007. (NRAO/AUI/NSF image)


Finding Aid to the Papers of Morton S. Roberts, 1945-2011

See also the Papers of Woodruff T. Sullivan III, which include a 40 minute oral interview with Roberts conducted in 1972.

NB: This material currently being processed; contact the Archivist for information on access and more detailed information on 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 Morton S. Roberts, 1945-2011

Size of the collection: 9 banker boxes unprocessed

Papers/Records created by: Roberts, Morton S. (1926- )

Short description of collection: Morton S. Roberts (1926- ) was a scientist at National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) from 1964-1978, served as Director of NRAO from 1978-1984, and was Senior Scientist at NRAO until his retirement in 2002, when he became an Emeritus Senior Scientist. These papers are primarily related to his personal research and related correspondence and to his participation in professional organizations and on committees.

The papers of Dr. Roberts in his capacity as NRAO Director are included with Director's Office materials in the NRAO institutional records in the Archives.


Selected search terms:

  • Roberts, Morton S. (1926- )
  • National Radio Astronomy Observatory (U.S.)


Biography: Morton S. Roberts was born in New York City in 1926, received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Pomona College in 1948, his Master of Science degree from California Institute of Technology in 1950, and his Doctor of Philosophy degree from University of California, Berkeley, in 1958. After receiving his doctorate, he was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and then a lecturer in Astronomy at University of California, Berkeley, before going to Harvard as a Lecturer and Research Associate in 1960. In 1964 he joined the staff at National Radio Astronomy Observatory, served as Assistant Director for Green Bank Operations in 1969-1970, and was NRAO Director from 1 October 1978 through 30 September 1984. After stepping down as Director, he continued as NRAO Senior Scientist, and became Emeritus Senior Scientist upon his retirement in 2002.

His research has encompassed both optical and radio astronomy. He is an authority on the study of neutral hydrogen in galaxies. Among the highlights of his research are the first measurement of extragalactic HI absorption in radio galaxies; the first high-redshift hydrogen detections, with a resultant determination of the remarkable constancy of several fundamental constants of physics over a look-back time of one third the age of the Universe; and the first clear enunciation that many, if not most, galaxies have flat rotation curves, providing the then most definitive observational evidence for dark matter in galaxies.

Roberts was a Co-Investigator for the ASTRO Imaging Experiment on the Columbia and Endeavor shuttles.

Over his long career he served as American Astronomical Society (AAS) Vice President, Councilor, and on many AAS committees and boards. He was a Vice President of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), during his time on the IAU Executive Committee he served twice as Treasurer, and he was on numerous IAU committees and commissions. He was on visiting, advisory, or assessment committees for Arecibo Observatory, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Space Telescope Science Institute, Johns Hopkins University Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, and Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). He served on editorial boards or as editor for Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Astronomical Journal, and Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Roberts is a member of the AAS, the IAU, and the International Scientific Radio Union (URSI). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.

[Biographical note written by Ellen N. Bouton with the assistance of Kenneth I.Kellermann and David E. Hogg.]


Accession history: Material was received from Dr. Roberts in several installments over the period 2009-2015.


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


Restrictions on use of collection: None.


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.


Preferred citation: [Identification of item, box, and file], Papers of Morton S. Roberts. Archives, National Radio Astronomy Observatory / Associated Universities, Inc.


Processing notes: Material was received from Dr. Roberts in several installments over the period 2009-2015. Initial inventory of the collection was done in 2015 by Megan Moore. Arrangement, description, indexing, foldering and boxing of this material was begun in 2017 and is ongoing. During processing, photocopies were made to replace thermofax sheets and newspaper clippings, fasteners were removed, and materials were removed from binders of various types. Duplicates were discarded.


Scope and Contents of Collection

NB: This material currently being processed; contact the Archivist for information on access and more detailed information on contents.

Correspondence Series


Councils and Committees Series

  • International Astronomical Union Unit
  • Visiting Committees Unit
  • Editorial Board Unit


Radio Astronomy Research Series


Publications Series

For a full bibliographic listing of Roberts publications, click here.


Modified on Wednesday, 03-May-2017 10:43:38 EDT by Ellen Bouton, Archivist (Questions or feedback)