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National History Day: Nuclear Science

Resources from the Science History Institute: Digital Collections, Museum collections, Archival collections, and the Othmer Library's collections.

About Triumph and Tragedy of Nuclear Science

The Manhattan Project was the U.S. government program that developed the first atomic bomb. The first bomb used in warfare was dropped by the United States onto Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945, completely devastating the city but setting off an end to world war. Nuclear fission has since been used to create electricity to power our modern world. The scientific achievement is inspiring and ended a world war but many ask: at what cost? The aftermath being arms races that are still playing out today. And the promise of endless energy leaves radioactive waste and the risk of rare but devastating accidents such as Fukushima.

Our collections at the Science History Institute illustrate the affect that nuclear science had on the American culture. The young adult chemistry set shows the promise of a new science while pamphlets on how to survive a nuclear disaster show the practicality of a world with such deadly weapons.       

Archival (unpublished)

To search for archival collections in the Digital Collection go to https://digital.sciencehistory.org/ and enter a keyword to start. Keywords you may want to use for Atomic and Nuclear Science are: Atomic, Nuclear, Radioactivity. Once you have started your search you will see a list of results along with a box on the left with options to limit your search, the last box is Department, here you can choose to only view items from our archival collections. 

Archival collections are also cataloged in the library catalog at the collection level. You can search the catalog at http://othmerlib.sciencehistory.org/ by using a keyword and narrowing the search to Archives Collection.

1951 illustration commemorating use of atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan (Archival collections)

Learn more about this image in our Digital Collections.

Top Search Terms

Try these search words:

  • Atomic
  • Nuclear
  • Energy
  • Radioactivity

Library (published)

To search for library collections in the Digital Collection go to https://digital.sciencehistory.org/ and enter a keyword to start. Keywords you may want to use for Nuclear History are: Atomic, Nuclear, and Radioactive. Once you have started your search you will see a list of results along with a box on the left with options to limit your search, the last box is Department, here you can choose to only view items from our library. 

To search the full library collections, not only the digitized items, go to the catalog at http://othmerlib.sciencehistory.org/. Enter a keyword, author, or subject such as Atomic, Nuclear, Radioactive, and U.S. Atomic Energy Commission., etc. Since most of these items are not digitized you may need to search your local library for them first or make an appointment to view them here. To find out more about visiting our library for research see the Using the Collections tab at the top of this page. 

Museum (artifacts and art)

To search for museum object collections in the Digital Collection go to https://digital.sciencehistory.org/ and enter a keyword to start. Keywords you may want to use for Nuclear Science are: Atomic, Nuclear, and Radioactivity. Once you have started your search you will see a list of results along with a box on the left with options to limit your search, the last box is Department, here you can choose to only view items from our Museum. 

Porter Chemcraft Chemistry Lab featuring Atomic Energy (Museum collections)

Learn more about this image in our Digital Collections.