Finding Aid to the Papers of Nannielou Hepburn Dieter Conklin
Biography: Dr. Conklin was a prominent figure in what was 50 years ago an entirely new science, radio astronomy. She was the first American woman whose PhD dissertation used radio astronomy data and, in 1952, was the first American woman to formally publish original research in the field. Over the course of her impressive career at Harvard and Berkeley, she pioneered studies of neutral hydrogen in nearby galaxies that are members of the local group and of the structure of the interstellar medium in the Milky Way and other galaxies. She also played a key role in early discoveries and investigations of interstellar masers.
Accession history: In 2002, NRAO scientist Miller Goss suggested that NRAO might host Conklin's "Chronicle," written in 2001 and describing her career as one of the earliest US women working in radio astronomy. When the NRAO Archives were started in spring 2003, Ellen Bouton, Archivist, worked with Conklin to edit and prepare Nan Dieter Conklin: A Life in Science for Web publication, adding links and images, and it was published as a Web resource in late 2003. Following the Web publication, Bouton and Goss, along with Clair Hooker (then at University of Toronto), worked with Conklin to edit and prepare for publication her full-length book, Two Paths to Heaven's Gate, published by NRAO in 2006.
Most materials listed in the Miscellany Series below were sent to the Archives at various times between 2003 and 2014, either by Conklin or at her direction. Her doctoral robe and the reprints were sent by family members after Conklin's death in 2014.
Preferred citation: Cite Nan Dieter Conklin: A Life in Science, as Conklin, N.D. 2006, Nan Dieter Conklin: A Life in Science (Charlottesville: NRAO). Cite other materials as National Radio Astronomy Observatory/Associated Universities, Inc. Archives, Papers of Nannielou Hepburn Dieter Conklin, <series>. After the initial citation, abbreviations may be used: NRAO/AUI Archives, Conklin Papers, <series>.
Processing notes: Work on the Web Resource, Nan Dieter Conklin: A Life in Science, was done in 2002-2003 by Ellen Bouton in collaboration with Conklin. Editorial work on Two Paths to Heaven's Gate was done in 2005-2006 by Ellen Bouton, Miller Goss, and Claire Hooker, with production assistance by NRAO's Patricia Smiley.
Scope and Contents of Collection
Autobiographical Publications Series: This series includes the web resource "Nan Dieter Conklin: A Life in Science" in which Nannielou Hepburn Dieter Conklin describes her career as one of the earliest US women working in radio astronomy. It also includes original and edited versions of her subsequent memoir, Two Paths to Heaven's Gate, along with copies of reviews.
Photographs Series: Included in this series are digital photographs from Conklin's web resource and book. Click here for digitized photographs.
Miscellany Series: This series includes Dr. Conklin's lab notebook recording M33 observations for her 1958 PhD thesis, Neutral Hydrogen in M33, found stored on the library shelves at Hat Creek Observatory and sent at her request to the NRAO Archives; Conklin's Harvard doctoral robe; a copy of John Charles Duncan: Astronomy: a Textbook, 4th ed., Harper, 1946, inscribed by Helen Dodson to Nannielou Reier on 31 March 1947; a 1993 Hat Creek commemorative paperweight (stored with the doctoral robe); a report of her 1973 exchange visit to the USSR; a transcript of the 1977 AIP-CHP oral history interview of her (interviewer: David DeVorkin); and an incomplete set of Hepburn/Dieter/Conklin reprints.