CORVALLIS, Ore. – The legacy of peace activism by Linus Pauling and his wife, Ava Helen Pauling, is the focus of a new website just launched by Oregon State University.
Linus Pauling, the only individual to win two unshared Nobel prizes, was internationally known primarily as a pioneering chemist until his wife encouraged him to use his stature to advocate for world peace. For five decades, the Paulings were active in efforts to promote peace and their drive to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons led to Linus Pauling’s receipt of the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize.
The new website, “Linus Pauling and the International Peace Movement,” includes more than 500 archival documents and more than 50 audio and video clips from the 1950s through the 1990s. The centerpiece of the site, which was developed by the OSU Libraries Special Collections, is a richly illustrated, 53-chapter narrative written by Pauling biographer Thomas Hager.
“Their efforts to promote peace earned the Paulings both acclaim and enmity, though not always in equal measure,” said Chris Petersen, a faculty research assistant in OSU Special Collections. “To some, the legacy of the Paulings’ peace work remains controversial, but few will deny the duo’s wide-ranging historical importance.”
Among the highlights of the new website is a calendar-based presentation of the complete details of the Paulings’ activities for the years 1950 and 1951 – when McCarthyism was taking root. Just one year later, the U.S. State Department would revoke Linus Pauling’s passport, denying him an opportunity to speak at an international scientific conference.
Other highlights of the website include:
• Selections from the United Nations bomb test petition, circulated by the Paulings in 1957-58, and bearing the signatures of more than 9,000 scientists from 50 countries, demanding an end to above-ground testing of nuclear weapons;
• A travel diary kept by Ava Helen Pauling, recounting the sights and sounds of life at Albert Schweitzer’s medical compound in central Africa;
• Correspondence between the Paulings and a host of notable figures, including Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Nikita Khrushchev, Ho Chi Minh, Schweitzer, Martin Luther King Jr. and numerous internationally known scientists;
• More than 70 photographs of the Paulings and other peace activists.
Linus Pauling graduated from Oregon State University and met his wife on campus. Pauling donated his and his wife’s papers to the university in 1986, eight years before his death. This is the fourth in a series of documentary history websites created by the OSU Libraries Special Collections on aspects of the Paulings’ lives.
The new website, “Linus Pauling and the International Peace Movement,” can be accessed at: http://osulibrary.oregonstate.edu/specialcollections/coll/pauling/peace/index.html.