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Irwin Oppenheim papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0711

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Irwin Oppenheim papers are organized into six series.

Series 1 contains correspondence and includes a group of folders arranged alphabetically by last name or letter from G to Z. Folders after this initial grouping are not arranged alphabetically. There are folders of correspondence related to publications both by Oppenheim and by others. Oppenheim’s publications are numbered. Drafts, correspondence, and reprints of articles by Oppenheim are found here. Copies of publications numbered 1 through 248 are found in series 5, Writings by Oppenheim. In series 1 there is also correspondence between Oppenheim, Kurt Shuler, Daniel Kivelson, and John Deutch, all of whom were working on a physical chemistry textbook. The unpublished draft of this book is found in series 5, Writings by Oppenheim. Correspondence between Oppenheim and Nicolaas 'Nico' Godfried van Kampen is included with publications and lecture notes by van Kampen in series 6, Writings by others.

Series 2: Career includes career related documents such as awards, recommendations in support of Oppenheim being hired at MIT, his CV, professional service activities, and contract work.

Series 3: Lecture Notes (Taught) contains lecture notes, class outlines, problem sets and course exams created by Oppenheim for classes at MIT. Classes that are most represented are 5.60: Thermodynamics and Kinetics, 5.70: Statistical Thermodynamics, and 5.72: Statistical Mechanics. This series includes three reel to reel tapes with audio recordings of lectures.

Series 4: Conferences and Presentations consists of papers from conferences, symposia, and talks attended by Oppenheim as well as talks given by Oppenheim outside of the classroom.

Series 5: Writings and Research Files consists of books, articles, technical reports, and unpublished manuscripts written by Oppenheim both alone and with other authors. Some correspondence is interspersed with research notes and publications with more than one author. This series includes drafts of an unpublished physical chemistry book by Oppenheim, John Deutch, Daniel Kivelson, and Kurt Shuler. Correspondence relating to this book can be found in series 1. Other items of note include Oppenheim’s dissertation, a textbook written by James Beattie and Oppenheim about Thermodynamics, and publications edited by Oppenheim including John Gamble Kirkwood’s collected works. More books by Kirkwood can be found in Series 6, Writing by Others.

Series 6 is titled Writings by Others and contains lecture notes, lists of papers, and the collected works of professors that Oppenheim took classes from and worked with. Oppenheim carried out his undergraduate studies in chemistry and physics at Harvard University, graduating in 1949. After which he attended graduate school at the California Institute of Technology where he met and was taught by John Gamble Kirkwood; when Kirkwood left for Yale University, Oppenheim followed him, completing his PhD in physical chemistry in 1956. Many of the files in this series relate to Kirkwood, including published books, lecture notes, and a photograph. Lecture notes and publications created by Kirkwood, James Beattie, Richard Feynman, and Herbert Goldstein are found in this series. Also in this series are published books by multiple authors. Correspondence between Oppenheim and Nicolaas 'Nico' Godfried van Kampen is included in this series with publications and lecture notes by van Kampen.


  • Creation: 1928-2014


Access note

This collection is open.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.


Irwin Oppenheim, 1929-2014, was a theoretical physical chemist, who joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the Department of Chemistry in 1961, and was promoted to full professor in 1965.

MIT News Office article:


10.45 Cubic Feet (in 10 record cartons and 1 legal manuscript box)

Language of Materials



This collection documents the career of Irwin Oppenheim. Oppenheim was a member of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1931 to1969 in the Department of Physics, and was a leader in the field of operations research. Material in this collection includes biographical information, correspondence, course material, conference and presentation notes, manuscripts, research data, and published articles, technical reports and books.


Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Processing Information note

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Preliminary Finding Aid to the Irwin Oppenheim papers, 1928-2014
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
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Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US