Finding Aid to the Papers of Bernard F. Burke, 1959-2010
|See also the Papers of Woodruff T. Sullivan III, which include two oral interviews with Burke, 45 minutes conducted in 1972 and 50 minutes conducted in 1981, and the Papers of Kenneth I. Kellermann, which include a 21 minute interview with Burke conducted in 2012.
Short description of collection: This collection includes papers of Bernard F. Burke related to his radio astronomy research, to both ground-based and space very long baseline interferometry, including Quasat and RadioAstron, and to his service on a variety of councils and committees.
Biography: Bernard Flood Burke was born on 7 June 1928. He received his undergraduate physics degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1950 and his Ph. D. in physics, also from MIT, in 1953. From 1953-1965 he was a staff member at Carnegie Institution of Washington, engaged primarily in research in radio astronomy, and was Chair of the Radio Astronomy Section from 1962-1965. In 1965 he joined the MIT faculty as Professor of Physics, and later became the William A. M. Burden Professor of Astrophysics. During his long tenure at MIT he supervised numerous doctoral students, many of whom have gone on to distinguished careers.
Burke's research extended over a large variety of topics. He was co-discoverer in 1955 of radio noise from Jupiter, and his work included the search for gravitational lenses, ground-based very long baseline interferometry, very long baseline interferometry from space, and the study of exo-planets. Burke was the co-author, along with Peter Wilkinson and F. Graham-Smith, of the popular text book, Introduction to Radio Astronomy, which has had several editions since its original 1997 publication.
Burke served in a number of important national and international leadership and advisory roles. He was a member of the National Science Foundation Astronomy Advisory Panel from 1958-1963, served on the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) Visiting Committee from 1958-1962, and as a Trustee for Associated Universities, Inc. from 1972-1990. He received the Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society in 1963, was the co-recipient of the 1971 Rumford Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was the 1998 Jansky Lecturer at NRAO. He was a member of the American Astronomical Society (and President, 1986-1988), the American Physical Society, the International Astronomical Union, the National Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Scientific Radio Union U.S. National Committee - Commission J. He served on advisory councils and committees for the Keck Telescope, the National Academy of Science, the National Research Council, the National Science Board, the Naval Studies Board, and the Space Science Board. He was a member of the Planetary Systems Working Group and the Towards Other Planetary Systems Scientific Working Group.
Burke died on 5 August 2018.
[Biographical note written by Ellen N. Bouton.]
Publication rights: Copyright has not 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, who will forward them to the executor of the Burke estate.
Preferred citation: National Radio Astronomy Observatory/Associated Universities, Inc. Archives, Papers of Bernard F. Burke, <series/unit/subunit/box #>. After the initial citation, abbreviations may be used: NRAO/AUI Archives, Burke Papers, <series/unit/subunit/box #>.
Processing notes: Initial inventory of this collection was done in August-September 2011 by Evelyn Braintwain and arrangement, description, indexing, foldering and boxing of this material was completed in December 2011. In 2021, Burke family members donated additional material to the collection and arranged for relevant records held by MIT to be donated to NRAO. Processing of the new material was completed by Heather Cole in spring 2021. During the 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.
Correspondence Series: This series includes general correspondence from 1961-2010. See also the other series in the Burke collection, as Burke filed much of his correspondence with relevant topical files. Size: 1.0 linear feet.
Burke Publication Series: This series includes drafts, preprints and reprints of papers published from 1954-2015 on which Burke was an author, and book reviews authored by Burke from 1977-1979. It also includes unpublished travel and personal writing by Burke and an unpublished play. Publications are ordered chronologically by date; articles for which there are drafts are foldered individually. Size: 1.0 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders.
Burke Lectures Series: This series includes notes, viewgraphs, and transcripts for lectures given by Burke from 1983-1992. Size: 0.5 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders.
Radio Astronomy Research Series: This series contains materials on Burke's radio astronomy research dated 1959-1999. Included are notes, correspondence, reports, charts and figures covering a variety of research topics. A separate unit in this series is comprised of Burke's research logbooks. Size: 2.5 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders.
Notes & Papers Series: This series includes material from conferences and workshops attended by Burke. Size: 1.5 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders.
Collected Publications Series: This series includes publications dated 1951-1998 received or collected by Burke. Material includes reprints, preprints, and newspaper and magazine clippings. Although some materials were requested by Burke, there are many for which it is unclear whether they were received unsolicited or were received in response to his requests. Others, such as the newspaper and magazine clippings, were clearly collected by him. Burke grouped some material topically and other material chronologically, and that arrangement has been retained. Size: 3.5 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders.
Councils and Committees Series: This series includes materials related to Burke's service on councils and committees, and has been divided into 15 units. Material in the units is arranged chronologically.
Space VLBI Series: This series contains correspondence, notes, memos, reports, agendas, meeting minutes, meeting agendas, proposals, photographs, and viewgraphs dated 1976-1996 related to space VLBI. Materials on VSOP are included here. Size: 2.5 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders. See below for separate units on RadioAstron and Quasat.
Square Kilometer Array (SKA) Series: This series contains proposals, presentations, meeting notes and correspondence regarding Burke's involvement in the SKA. Materials are dated 1993-2008. Size: 0.5 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders. Related materials: See also SKA materials in the Papers of Kenneth I. Kellermann.
Photographs Series: This series contains both scientific photographs and photographs of people and events. Photos are dated 1961-1996; many photos are undated. Size: 0.25 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders and digitized photographs.