Massachusetts Institute of Technology Oral History Program, oral history interviews on the Physical Science Study Committee
Scope and Contents of the Collection
James Killian, MIT President (1948-1959), President Eisenhower’s Special Assistant for Science and Technology (1957-1959), and key developer of NASA, summarized the influence of this committee’s seminal work in his memoir, The Education of a College President: “Out of [the Physical Science Study Committee] was to come a revolutionary physics course for high schools, and in fact a curriculum reform movement with worldwide impact in which first-rate scholars in our universities turned their creative attention to the development of better teaching in precollege schools. I had the privilege of participating in this process by enthusiastically supporting Professor Zacharias’s initial concept and by running interference for him in launching and funding the PSSC program.”(1) The chapter in which this remark appears, “Trailbreaking in Education: Two Exemplars,” provides a wonderful account of the history of the Physical Science Study Committee.
The history of the project itself is well documented in the records of the Physical Science Study Committee and its offshoots (MC 79, MC 626). The oral history sought to bolster the documentation of this important committee dynamically through interviews with Jerrold Zacharias, Philip Morrison, Jack Churchill, Nathaniel Frank. and other central figures.
According to Marc S. Miller, one of the primary interviewers of the project, the oral history of the Physical Science Study Committee was intended to document, through interviews with the principal participants, the “inception, philosophy, growth and subsequent off-shoots [of the Physical Science Study Committee], and its impact on curriculum reform.”
The collection provides extensive background material on both the process of the Physical Science Study Committee oral history project and the Physical Science Study Committee itself.
The collection essentially consists of the transcripts of the interviews with principal members of the Physical Science Study Committee, background and reference materials relating to the individual interviewees, and the history of the Committee. Also included is a substantial amount of notes taken by the interviewers. These notes can be found in box 4, included in the interviewee folders. ______ (1) James R. Killian, Jr., The Education of a College President: A Memoir (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985), 167.
- 1956 - 1976
Intellectual Property Rights
2 Cubic Feet (5 manuscript boxes, 2 audiocassette boxes)
Language of Materials
Processing Information note
- Frank, Nathaniel H. (Nathaniel Herman), 1903-1984 (Person)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Oral History Program (Organization)
- Kelly, Harry C. (Person)
- Morrison, Philip (Person)
- Zacharias, Jerrold Reinach, 1905-1986 (Person)
- Preliminary Guide to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Oral History Program, Oral History Interviews on the Physical Science Study Committee
- Ready For Review
- Jason Paul Michel
- Copyright 2005
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
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