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Alexander Rich personal archives

Identifier: MC-0730

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Scope and Contents

The collection documents the professional activities of Alexander Rich between the years of 1954 to 2015.

Materials include: correspondence, awards, slides, and administrative files.


  • Creation: 1954 - 2015


Conditions Governing Access

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.

Biographical Note

Alexander Rich, 1925-2015, was the William Thompson Sedgwick professor in the biology department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Rich served with the US Navy from 1943-1946 and received his BS from Harvard University in 1947. He received his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1949. After graduating, Rich was a research fellow in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology until 1954, and then served as chief of the section on physical chemistry at the National Institute of Mental Health from 1954-1958. Rich joined the MIT faculty in 1958. While at MIT, he worked as an Investigator in NASA’s Viking Mission from 1969-1980. Rich continued to work at MIT until his passing in 2015.

Rich conducted extensive research in structural molecular biology, making considerable contributions to understanding the relationships between the structures and functions of DNA and RNA molecules. He and a team he led found the “left-handed” form of DNA, and the first biological role for it. Rich received the National Medal of Science, MIT’s James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award, and the Lomonosov Large Gold Medal from the Russian Academy of Sciences. Rich was additionally a part of the National Academy of Sciences, the Philosophical Society, the French Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. (1)

1. MIT News, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Alexander Rich Dies at 90.” Accessed December 9, 2020.


66 Cubic Feet (65 record cartons, 1 small box)

500 Gigabytes (two harddisk drives, one email account, 1 CD-ROM, 8 3.5 diskettes, 6 Zip100 disks [GBs unknown until after data extraction from media])

Language of Materials


Physical Location

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

Digital Materials Location

Some collection materials are digital-only and are currently unavailable for online access. Advance notice is required for use.

Processing Information note

Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.

Preliminary List of the Alexander Rich personal archives
Preliminary Inventory
Liz Andrews, Greta Suiter, Kari Smith
listing 2016 December
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020 December: Biographical note by Michael Anoke added.

Repository Details

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

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