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Arthur R. von Hippel papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0321

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection of Arthur R. von Hippel papers includes biographical materials on von Hippel, and two oral histories conducted by Z. Malek, and the Smithsonian Computer History Project. Also includes many of von Hippel's publications, personal and professional correspondence, some materials from courses he taught at MIT, and research notebooks from the 1930s in German about his early work with semiconductors. There are also writings and materials used by von Hippel to research the behavior of electricity in cellular biology and in atmospheric systems. A complete set of reports (progress and technical) produced by staff of the Laboratory for Insulation Research is included. Personal and professional correspondence dating from the 1960s is also part of the collection.


  • Creation: 1919 - 1986


Access note

This collection is not fully processed and portions of this collection must be reviewed to identify any restricted material before access can be granted. Please submit your requests at least ten business days before your desired visit to allow time for this review. An archivist will respond within five business days to let you know whether your requested material is open. For complete information on this policy, see our Statement on Accessing Institute Records.

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.


Arthur Robert von Hippel, 1898-2003, PhD 1924, University of Göttingen, became assistant professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 1936, professor in 1947, and was named to the special rank of Institute Professor in 1962, before retiring as professor emeritus in 1964.

Prior to coming to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was associated with the University of Jena, University of California, University of Göttingen, University of Istanbul, and the University of Copenhagen. In 1937 at MIT he established the Laboratory for Insulation Research and served as its director until he retired in 1964. During World War II, the Laboratory worked in close cooperation with the National Defense Research Committee, and von Hippel was a staff member of the Radiation Laboratory on the MIT campus, conducting research in the area of dielectrics, and serving on government boards. In recognition of his work he was awarded the President’s Certificate of Merit in 1948.

Von Hippel is recognized for his research in the fields of dielectrics, ferroelectrics, solid state physics, molecular science, and molecular engineering. After his official retirement he continued to teach, write, and do research, in conjunction with the Laboratory for Insulation Research and the Department of Electrical Engineering, and also pursued a personal interest in historical research.


14.7 Cubic Feet (7 record cartons, 21 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, 2 flat boxes)

Language of Materials



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

Source of Acquisition

Materials were given to the Department of Distinctive Collections (formerly the Institute Archives and Special Collections) in 1990 by Eric von Hippel. Additional material was transferred by the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1998, and by the Von Hippel family in 2004 and 2005.

Appraisal note


Separated Materials

The contents of box 29 were transferred to the MIT Museum.

Processing Information

Box 6a contains glass lantern slides, some are cracked. Better housing is needed. Handle with care.

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 Inventory to the Papers of Arthur R. von Hippel
Ready For Review
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023 February 17: Revised by processing archivist Chris Tanguay to update access notes and enhance description.

Repository Details

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

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
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