ORGANIZATION: Atomic Energy Commission
ACTIVE DATES: 1940s-early 1970s
PERSONS INVOLVED: Melvin Day; Bernard Fry; Herman Fussler; Mortimer Taube; Israel A. Warheit
MAJOR PROJECTS: Nuclear Science Abstracts; National Nuclear Energy Series; Tech Briefs; Library Bulletin.

Predecessor to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was Manhattan District Project, which organized libraries and other scientific and technical information activities. After World War II, AEC organized the Manhattan District Editorial Advisory Board (MDEAB) to plan a series of monographs summarizing the state of the art in the various fields of nuclear energy (National Nuclear Energy Series). Thompson and Fussler were both on this board. MDEAB also investigated ways to improve the efficiency of library and technical activities of the project.

In 1946, AEC organized the Library Unit of the Research division in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory with Bernard Fry in charge. The library unit was responsible for the control and exchange of sci-tech material among the units of the project, for arranging to review material for early release to the public, and for gathering and reviewing all sci-tech material of the project when it came time to declassify it. In June 1946, AEC began issuing Weekly Title List, which was the forerunner to Nuclear Science Abstracts.

Early in 1947, the AEC enabling act was passed. This act created the establishment of the Division of Public and Technical Information (Oct. 1947). According to this act, this division was "to secure...adequate control and dissemination of information that is the life and blood of scientific and engineering progress and of public understanding of that progress and its implications." To accomplish this goal, this division was split into 3 branches: the Declassification Branch and the Public Information Branch (both in Washington, DC) and the Technical Information Branch (in the Oak Ridge Laboratory). Alberto Thompson was appointed head of the Technical Information Branch (TIB).

In 1948 the Technical Information Panel replaced the MDEAB. TIB was responsible for the centralized processing, reproduction, and dissemination of all AEC lab scientific and technical reports as well as reports from contractors. But TIB was not receiving all of these reports; therefore, in April 1948, it issued the Bulletin CM-81, which gave specific guidelines for control of report literature. In late 1948, TIB at Oak Ridge was placed under administrative and funding control of the Division of Public and Technical Information. In December 1948, TIB published the first of the National Nuclear Energy Series.

In 1950 as the TIB's activities expanded, the AEC raised its administrative status and renamed it the Technical Information Service (TIS) (Oak Ridge was placed under TIS's control). TIS still reported to Public and Technical Information but had considerable freedom for administrative, technical, and fiscal decisions. TIS produced Nuclear Science Abstracts as well as the Library Bulletin, containing information on translations and special bibliographies. In 1952, TIS contracted Microcard Corporation to produce microcards of old technical reports as well as current ones. Soon it was the norm to distribute these reports on microcards. Abstract bulletins, indexes, and special bibliographies were also included on microcards.

In 1954, the Atomic Energy Act passed, authorizing AEC to make more information available to U.S. industry and foreign countries. This act led to agreements with the UK, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands to exchange information. In 1957, AEC began sharing information with Eastern block countries. While TIS was able to gather scientific information from other countries, this program was never very successful.

In 1958, TIS extension at Oak Ridge (Melvin Day and Roger Shannon) developed a mechanized system to prepare indexes, as well as bibliographies, using the Listomatic camera and IBM punchcard equipment. This system was used to produce NSA (Jan. 1959) and now could print current indexes in each issue of NSA. In the late 1960s, AEC cooperated with NASA to allow NASA to implement the RECON system. NASA and AEC also worked together to create and produce Tech Briefs, which allowed U.S. industry to have access to the new technologies these agencies developed.

SOURCE: Adkinson, B. W. (1978). Two Centuries of Federal Information. Stroudsburg, PA: Dowden, Hutchinson, and Ross, Inc.

National Archives, Washington, DC; In NNTA-N, NNSM, and NNSP branches of the NA; Also in 9NS-L, 9NS-S, 10NS regions.
SIZE: 4,665 cu. ft./36,459 items.
INCLUDES: Aerial photographs, images, motion pictures, microfilm, architectural and engineering plans, and sound recordings.
SOURCE: National Archives ( 70/0/inform/groups).

The Atomic Energy Commission
Libraries and Information Centers

After World War II, the Manhattan District Project, the predecessor of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), wanted to evaluate and publish the scientific and engineering records showing the advancements made during the war. The Manhattan District Editorial Advisory Board (MDEAB) was organized in 1945 and had at least one representative from each laboratory on it, including Alberto F. Thompson and Herman Fussler. The board's task was to plan a series of monographs, National Nuclear Energy Series, summarizing "the state of art in various fields of nuclear energy." The MDEAB also examined more effective uses of the library and technical information activities of the projects. In 1946 Fussler made eight recommendations "for a scientific and technical information service in nuclear energy." These proposals were later implemented when the AEC used them as the basis for its technical information program.

In the spring of 1946, the Library Unit of the Research Division in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory was established with Bernard Fry in charge of the library. The unit, which was responsible for all laboratories within the project, oversaw the control and exchange of scientific and technological information between the laboratories, arranged the reviewing of information which could be released early to the public, and, finally, reviewed all material for declassification. Like other libraries during the late 1940s, the AEC faced the problems of preparing indexes, subject and others.


Page updated 14 January 1998